For many years now Margaret L. Smyth has been attracted to a variety of imaginative elements which have been combined in a playful way. The scale of those elements vary greatly within one image, generating a mysterious set of dreamlike scenarios which invite the viewer to fill the unfamiliar scenes with their own associations.
Often references to travels abroad slip into the compositions and allow vistas of Tuscan landscape to be juxtaposed with close-ups of architectural details or art historical quotations.
References to historical paintings appear regularly as part of complex compositions that generate a collage like effect and need to be explored slowly. A quotation of a Verrochio head study might gaze at a hot air balloon which itself is showered by stars that are suspended on strings like in a celestial mobile or the tenderly overlapping hands of Anne of Cleves in Holbein’s portrait sit against a still life of flowers and fair ground paraphernalia with a young Ninette de Valois looking on from the interior of a toy theatre.
Margaret’s studio overlooks the Firth of Forth with a South facing view stretching from distant Edinburgh across to the Lothian coast with the Bass Rock and the Isle of May in the East completing the panorama. This wide horizon features often in Margaret’s compositions and allows, like the Tuscan views, a gap of fresh air into the often rich detail of a stage set giving the opportunity to offset the warm, dark colours of the interiors against the cool, wide horizons of the constant sea view.
The sizes of Margaret’s works vary greatly, from small, intimate studies to expansive atmospheric scenes. Often her considered compositions are glimpsed in elegant narrow upright strips or multiple shapes in the form of screens of a human height.
Her images are not confined by logic or physical laws. A female with a hooped skirt might delicately balance on the deck of a wooden vessel of dubious sea worthiness, surrounded by stars and a moon on stilts while a shoal of fish gently pass her by, unperturbed by the land borne apparition.