John Smith was born in Walthamstow, London in 1952 and lives and works in London. Smith studied at North-East London Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, after which he became an active member of the London Filmmakers Co-op. Inspired in his formative years by conceptual art and structural film, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, he has developed an extensive body of work that subverts perceived boundaries between documentary and fiction, representation and abstraction. Often rooted in everyday life, his meticulously crafted films playfully explore and expose the language of cinema.


Since 1972 Smith has made over sixty film, video and installation works that have been shown in galleries and independent cinemas around the world with major prizes at many international film festivals. He received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011 and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award. His solo exhibitions include Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Germany (2022); Cornubian Arts & Science Trust, Cornwall, UK (2020); Wolverhampton Art Gallery, UK (2016); Vita Kuben, Umea, Sweden (2015); Centre d’Art Contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec, Paris, France (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Germany (2015); Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporanea, Lisbon, Portugal (2013); Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany (2012); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (2011) and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2006). Smith’s work is included in numerous public collections including Tate, Arts Council, MoMA New York, FRAC Île de France, Kunstmuseum Magdeburg and Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz.