Since leaving England at 16, Colin Hugh Smith lived in the United States, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, but for the last 50 years he has called New Brunswick home. On his journey he’s been a Registered Interior Designer, a restaurateur, a journalist, a published fiction writer and an art promoter, but these days his creative energies are mostly focused on making visual, decorative art.
When he ran his own interior design studio – as an accredited member of IDNB (Interior Designers of New Brunswick) – his clients included the Province Of New Brunswick (Fredericton’s Legislative Assembly Chamber and old Government House) and private commissions in Canada, Britain, the U.S. and Italy. While he studied art at UNB in Fredericton, and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, he also gained much from workshops with New Brunswick artists such as Molly Lamb Bobak, Gisela Lindlau, Jennifer Pazienza, Brigid Toole Grant and Richard Flynn, but he is largely a self-trained artist.
“My artistic strength, and I’m always trying to flex those muscles, comes not from rigorous training in technique but rather from pure intuition, a sense of visual drama, of being blessed with a good eye,” he claims.
After graduating from UNB Fredericton with a first class honours degree in English Literature (fine arts minor), he was awarded a full-term M.A. Graduate Assistantship during which he completed and successfully defended his thesis examining certain aspects of Ezra Pound’s London years concerning his involvement in the undercurrents influencing the radical changes which took place in the European art world in the years leading up to 1914.
He has written many articles on the visual arts (he was nominated for the Christina Sabat Award in 2001), drama and classical music – including book reviews – for Saint John’s late daily paper The Times Globe and New Brunswick’s provincial paper, The Telegraph Journal, and its weekend supplement, The Reader, as well as other national publications such as Opera News and the Parliamentary Review.
In addition to a long-standing association, including solo shows, at Gallery 78 in Fredericton, his work displayed at the former Seacoast Gallery as well as at Sunbury Shores, both in St. Andrews, and the old ABEC in Saint John (the Saint John Arts Centre). His work was also featured at Saint John’s Imperial Theatre, the New Brunswick Museum (Art and Artifacts, www.nbm-mnb.ca), the New Brunswick Festival of the Arts, the University of New Brunswick’s Student Voices show, and ARTgallery ‘Rat in Queenstown. He has appeared in both solo and group exhibitions at Cobalt Gallery, the Klausen Gallery, the Fundy Art Gallery, all of Saint John, and has shipped several paintings West to the Kensington Gallery in Calgary and British Columbia and East to Scotland and England. He’s recently appeared in festivals such as the annual Rothesay Netherwood Art Show and last summer’s successful Summerville
My current work has mostly two directions – the exuberant and colourful florals which I love to paint and have been my most popular work and the more profound and soulful abstract pieces in which I play with colour and rhythm and try to express my personal philosophies and states of mind.
In my recent uptown Saint John studio, which I recently vacated after 20 years to move to St. Andrews, both kinds of paintings were hanging or leaning amidst other goings-on, some successful, some not, projects which involve – among other things – a loom and several soft-sculpture wall hangings. I’m always working on something, or at least planning it. But now it’s time for a fresh start!