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Creation and Crucifixion by Jack Smith (born 1928)

Painting of a distorted aerial view of a room with chairs, a table, a lamp and shirts drying

Oil on hardboard, painted around 1955-1956
Presented by Sir John Moores in 1957 (No. 1236)

First prize (Purchase prize), John Moores 1, 1957

Sheffield-born artist Jack Smith became the first John Moores winner with this painting. At the time he was linked with 'Kitchen Sink' realism: domestic interiors littered with everyday objects; earthy and rather sombre colours; the suggestion of a rough and-ready assemblage. But Smith was not interested in depicting real life, saying, My concern at that time was to make the ordinary seem miraculous. He conveys this here largely through the handling of light, bathing the contents of the room in mystery. This anticipates his later development towards geometrical abstraction and how the effects of light transform the shapes we see. When he won, Smith was a part-time art teacher finding it impossible to live on the sale of his paintings. Of the £1,000 prize money he said, It means I shall paint for a short time on canvas instead of hardboard.

"This work was a summing up of the previous four years' paintings. Many of the objects had already been explored in other paintings. After this work I moved on to other areas of exploration. By 1959 my work had become abstract.

The prize money [£1,000] made a lot of difference. I was able to buy more expensive colours and the bank welcomed me with smiles."

Jack Smith, 7 August 2008