HSC Visual Art Resources

A resource site for visual art teachers and secondary students completing their HSC in the Visual Arts


Martin Smith
Silence of a Falling Star 2006
110 x 110 cm
image credit: http://www.ryanrenshaw.com.au/

Martin Smith
After Sport One Sunday 2006
Lambda print
110 x 110cm
image credit: http://www.martin-smith.net

Martin Smith, born and works in Brisbane, Australia.

Martin Smith works with photographic images and text, painstakingly hand cutting the text from the photographic print, creating a negative space of diary entries, stories and lyrics. The text incorporated into the photographs are central to the artworks, often confessional, filled with memories and nostalgia,  incised into the photographic surface. Smith’s use of memories laid bare to the viewer, allow for an audience interpretation, layering multiple personal experiences into the artwork.

The cutting of text and words into the surface of the photographic images gives the artworks a sculptural quality. The photographic image blurs into the text and vice versa, you cannot see one without the other. Smith plays with the instantaneous quality of the photography (the click of the camera) and the meticulous, time consuming quality of the hand cut letters and text to produce artworks that reflect the ups and downs, with melancholy and humor, of growing up and life within the suburbs.

The cut letters are not wasted either, with Smith scattering them on the bottom of frames, or on the floor underneath the artworks, as if they just naturally fell from the image itself, collecting at the bottom, like leaves from a tree.

Photography captures the classic moments of our lives, like your first day at school, a birthday celebration, a holidaybut it doesn’t capture those other parts of your life that, although in that particular moment perhaps seem unimportant, are sometimes much more significant in shaping us as human beings.

– Martin Smith

Each letter is hand cut from the printed photo, so there’s only ever one made … which goes against a lot of the mechanical easily reproducible aspects of photography.

– Martin Smith

What I do is, I have the photograph and then I etch text into the photograph, sometimes that text is a song lyric, and other times it’s a story from my youth or from my adulthood. Then I physically cut each letter out of the photo.

– Martin Smith

‘The storytelling came from when I started looking at my old family photos and thinking about what goes with them. You know when you’re looking at family photos, there are particular stories that go with them – that’s that person, that’s the time when your uncle turned up for Christmas, and so on.

– Martin Smith

Photography captures the classic moments of life, like your first day at school, but it doesn’t capture the other parts of your life that are sometimes way more significant.

– Martin Smith

Martin Smith
After Seeing Every Episode Twice 2006
Lambda print
65.5 x 65.5cm
image credit: http://www.martin-smith.net/

Martin Smith
Ronald Desmond 2004
Type C photograph
37 x 145cm
image credit: http://www.ryanrenshaw.com.au/



  • Martin Smith, fine artist
  • studied visual arts at the Queensland College of Art
  • works in photography and photo-collage


  • photographic prints with letters and text cut out of the image
  • contains stories, lyrics and diary entry style texts
  • discarded letters cut away from the photographic prints are collected and used as part of the artworks
  • created through memories and past experiences


  • access own personal memories to familiar scenarios and memories presented by Martin Smith through the texts cut into the artworks
  • can choose whether to explore the artworks through just the imagery, the text or both


  • memories and experiences of youth and adolescence
  • suburban experiences and lifestyles
  • growing up, childhood, middle class memories and stories

Martin Smith
Fix it up 2010
pigment print and collage
90 x 180cm
image credit: http://www.martin-smith.net/

Martin Smith
Every Sunday 2009
pigment print and collage
90 x 130cm
image credit: http://www.sophiegannongallery.com.au/



  • feelings associated with the artists memories and the audiences interpretations and own memories layered onto them
  • various emotions as reactions to happy and sad stories
  • presents to the viewer a chance to access their own childhood memories


  • photographic images
  • letters, words and texts that make up memories and stories personal to the artist
  • letters cut by hand out of the photographic
  • relationships between the the instant properties of the photograph and the labor intensive act of hand cutting text


  • Australian suburban lifestyle and memories
  • events from childhood and adolescence
  • images and landscapes from Queensland


  • appropriation of lyrics as text
  • humor, irony and memory used in text
  • child hood events are reinterpreted through both the artist and the viewer
  • challenges mainstream photographic conventions by cutting into the printed image and removing the text as negative space.

Martin Smith
Amazingly Peaceful and Beautiful 2009
Pigment print on photorag
34 x 50cm
image credit: http://www.ryanrenshaw.com.au/

Martin Smith
Failing 2009
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle miller paper
39 x 40 cm
image credit: http://www.ryanrenshaw.com.au/


  • photographic skills
  • time involved in the hand cutting of individual letters and text within the artworks
  • interest in past memories and events throughout lifetimes
  • ambiguous landscapes resembling sites of memory and particular events
  • interest in how an audience projects their own feelings, memories and associations with the artworks, layering multiple meanings in each one

Martin Smith
Whenever I close my hand 2009
Giclee print
125 x 90cm
image credit: http://www.martin-smith.net/

Martin Smith
Party in the Hills 2008
pigment print
100 x 98cm
image credits: http://www.sophiegannongallery.com.au/






Martin Smith
The homily 2009
pigment print and collage
90 x 130cm
image credits: http://www.sophiegannongallery.com.au/

Martin Smith
You know it’s all beginning 2008
pigment print
130 x 80cm
image credits: http://www.sophiegannongallery.com.au/


This entry was posted on 10/07/2012 by in All, Australian, Photography, Text.
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