Even in Renaissance times the construction of works of art was often by the hand of someone other than the artist. Mike Smith's studio on the Old Kent road has been witness to the making of many important works of the Young British Artists, including Damien Hirst, Keith Tyson and Rachel Whiteread. Here the processes and practices of his studio are revealed.
In the 15th century the ideas of the great Renaissance artists required the attentions of engineers and artisans to construct and explain the dynamics of their ambitious works. Leonardo da Vinci's helicopter was built in a studio; very probably his submarine too.
Today that endeavour and enquiry is represented by Mike Smith, whose studio in the Old Kent Road in London furnishes the architecture for the most pressing installations and sculptures of young British artists. He is the carborundum that enables the best artists working in Britain today to realise their work - Rachel Whiteread's Monument in Trafalgar Square is a testament to his work.
The painter Patsy Craig, out of Connecticut and Peru, has, in Making Art Work, unravelled the activities of the Mike Smith Studios, including the symbiosis of the studio with the process of creation of such artists as Damien Hirst, Mona Hatoum, Keith Tyson, Darren Almond and Mark Wallinger. Over the last 12 years she has collected from the Studio's archives, along with the detritus, the correspondence, notes, ideas, failures and successes of these and other artists at the studio. They are a diary and vade mecum of the construction of a significant theory in current British art.
It is an extraordinary assembly of the very templates of the thinking, design and creation of art in Britain today, edited with a painter's eye to the relevant and a disdain for the irrelevant. It is as if one were provided with a pop-up illustration of how and why artists think, and how their ideas are engineered by those who translate their odysseys into reality. Germano Celant, a Senior Curator for Guggenheim New York, has contributed the critical text. William Furlong, from Audio Arts, has conducted the artists' interviews.