John Smith was born in Walthamstow, London in 1952. He 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. He has been awarded major prizes at international film festivals in Oberhausen, Leipzig, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Graz, Geneva, Uppsala, Pamplona, Bordeaux, Lucca, Palermo, Split, Cork, Seoul, Ann Arbor and Chicago. He received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011, and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award. Smith’s work will be featured in a solo exhibition at Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Germany (2022). Previous solo exhibitions include, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, UK (2016); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover, Germany (2012); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2006); Centre d’Art Contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec, Paris, France (2014); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2012); Weserburg Museum for Modern Art, Bremen, Germany (2012); Uppsala Art Museum and Royal College of Art Galleries, London, UK (2010). His work is included in numerous public collections including Tate, Arts Council, MoMA New York, FRAC Île de France, Kunstmuseum Magdeburg and Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz.