During her research for the Fruitmarket Writers’ Shift poetry residency, poet Jane Goldman looked into women’s participation in the Fruitmarket during the 1970s and 1980s. She discovered that Jill Smith (born 1942) was the first woman to show in the Fruitmarket’s exhibition’s programme in 1975 when she was working as a pioneering performance artist with her then husband Bruce Lacey. Goldman reconnected Fruitmarket with Smith who is now based on the Isle of Lewis. Making up for lost time, we welcome this artist and writer back to the Fruitmarket nearly 50 years after she last visited.
On 24.02.22 Smith made a performance ritual in the Fruitmarket Warehouse, the traces of which remained over the following two days. The following day Fruitmarket hosted the talk ‘Jill Smith: Life, Performance, Journeys, Art: 1962–2022’. Jane Goldman introduced Jill Smith and the two read Goldman’s poem THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE OBSESSIONS AND FANTASIES OF BRUCE LACEY AND JILL BRUCE IS A SOLO EXHIBITION BY BRUCE LACEY. Smith presented the development of her art practice from the 70s to the present day. The event wove Smith’s story into that of women’s activism, taking in the protests at Greenham Common and the solidarity she found in women’s art collectives. Always finding ways to keep making work even when tides of favour and resources had been diverted from her, Smith’s story is one of resilience and deep commitment to her chosen life.
Images: Tiu Makkonen and Chris Scott