High Weald

smart images

George Smart was born in 1774 and died a pauper in Frant, Sussex in 1846.

During these years he served as a soldier, worked as a tailor, was married and raised a daughter. He also created unique artworks that are recognised as hugely important within the idiom of English Folk Art. 

Smart’s most popular subjects are the characters Old Bright, The Postman and The Goosewoman. These were real people, not inventions - locals he would have seen passing his shop window in Frant everyday  - and his backgrounds depict landscape features you can see in the area today.

Smart's fabric collage pictures and standing animal figures were popular souvenirs for early 19th century tourists. .  In 2014 the spotlight finally fell on George Smart when 21 works by him appeared in the Folk Art exhibition at Tate Britain, London. His work is also now celebrated in Tunbridge Wells Museum where there is a collection of his work including The Felt-covered Blackbird Model (circa 1840 ) which is an extremely rare surviving example of a ‘dummy board’ (a flat painting done on wood in a realistic style and then cut and shaped to resemble a person, animal or object). Jonathon Christie recently published a book on his life and works titled George Smart the Tailor of Frant - Artist in Cloth and Velvet Figures. 

As part of a Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival -led project, sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund,  pupils from Speldhurst  CE Primary School visited Tunbridge Wells Museum to see George Smart's artwork first hand.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., High Weald Education Officer, helped pupils interpret Smart's art style to produce their own landscape pieces following a school Welly Walk to sketch the local landscape, in particular its field patterns.

High Weald Hero schools can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for an 'Art in the Landscape' workshop which will include a school walk in the local countryside or download the 'Art in the Landscape' activity sheet to run a self-guided session or use the case studies on George Smart or J Sprange for your own workshop.   pdf J Sprange - publisher of Tunbridge Wells Guide a case study (214 KB)   pdf George Smart - local artist in the landscape case study (253 KB)

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