Creation and Crucifixion

WAG 1236


This painting won first prize in the first John Moores Liverpool Exhibition (now known as the John Moores Painting Prize), held in 1957. At the time the artist Jack Smith was linked with ‘Kitchen Sink’ realism. Such paintings included domestic interiors cluttered with everyday objects. They had earthy and rather drab colours. Smith, however, was not interested in depicting real life. As the title suggests, he was concerned with what he described as “the capacity of the everyday to become miraculous or mystical.” He conveys this through the handling of light. The latter anticipates his later development towards geometrical abstraction and colourful patterns. When he won, Smith was a part-time art teacher struggling to live on the sale of his paintings. Of the £1,000 prize money he said, “I shall paint for a short time on canvas instead of hardboard” and “the bank welcomed me with smiles.”