Columbidae: The Poetry Sets | Barbara T. Smith

curated by Laura McLean-Ferris
28 May 2015 to 5 Jul 2015
The Poetry Sets, 1965-66, Barbara T Smith, Cell Project Space


28th April – 5th July 2015
open Thursday – Sunday 12-6pm or by appointment

Sets of Poetry: A performance featuring contributions by 
Sophie Collins, Kathy Noble, Megan Rooney

starts promptly Sunday July 5th, 2015 4pm–5pm

The second part of the exhibition ‘Columbidae’ is a full presentation of Barbara T. Smith’s five Poetry Sets, made in 1965-66, following the rejection of her print proposal from a prominent lithographers in Los Angeles. Smith, then a housewife in Pasedena, leased a Xerox 914, a new technology that was revolutionising the copying industry, and installed it in her dining room for eight months.

‘I told myself lithography [was] in any case obsolete. It [was] merely the printmaking media of the nineteenth-century. We [were] in the twentieth-century and logically the print media of our era would be the business machine! I set out to discover which types were technically innovative. Xerox won. The ink was not ink but ‘toner,’ a bead of plastic material that becomes electrically charged as the light scans the images and it falls on the paper replicating the pattern and density of what it is reproducing. There it lays like dust until the paper passes through a heating element where it is sintered or fused to the paper. There the bead loses its integrity and bonds in a completely new way with the paper. The heat is just low enough to keep from setting the paper afire. Occasionally, fires would erupt and I was told to never mind, it’s part of the process.’

Photocopying whatever was available to her in her kitchen cupboards and garden, as well as her own body and children’s toys, Smith created several Xerox sculptures and collages, as well as five poetry sets, entitled Child Voice, The Mystery, Rebellion, Joy and Sorrow. Smith’s dual roles as both a wife and mother and an emerging artist in the mid-1960s literally collide in the prints, performing the tensions between public and private space, and paid and unpaid labour. Smith used the materials of her daily life, writing on the glass with lipstick, creating patterns with rice and flour, using her childrens’ sticker transfers of rabbits and birds. The poems brim with suppressed energy and explosive potential; the titles of the sets might be seen as drivers that were transforming Smith’s artistic and political ideas. 

‘We were only beginning to know that this was not only a personal issue, or a class issue but one of an entire gender. In a culture where the female voice is absent, the content of the work became coexistent with the female being and thus was inherently political as well. This thrust in my work while embarrassingly self-revealing, is that which went beyond the purity of minimalism of its time. I felt my cultural oppression, but it was difficult to grasp, especially because I was a privileged white female.’ 

Based in Pasadena, USA, artist Barbara T. Smith was primarily involved in F-Space, 1960s-70s with artists Chris Burden and Nancy Buchanan. Recent solo exhibition include ‘The Smell of Almonds: Resin Works, 1968–1982’  at Andrew Kreps Gallery, NYC in 2015 and ‘Xerox: Barbara T. Smith 1965 – 1966’, The Box, Los Angeles, CA in 2014 with her recognized solo exhibition ‘Radicalizations of a '50s Housewife’ which was exhibited at the University Art Gallery, University of California Irvine, CA in 2012. Smith’s work was included in earlier survey exhibitions such as  ‘Out of Action: Between the Performance and Object, 1949-1979, MOCA, Los Angeles, and ‘The Birth of an Art Capitol’, and ‘WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution’, which both toured extensively across museums in the USA including MOCA, Los Angeles, PS1, New York City, and The Pompidou Centre, Paris.


Columbidae is the name for the bird family that includes doves and pigeons.

Columbidae, part one was a group show of work by Essex Olivares, Mélanie Matranga, Barbara T. Smith and Dena Yago that considered some recent collapses of work into life 

Generously supported by FLUXUS and The Arts Council Of England

Sets of Poetry

Performance featuring contributions by Sophie Collins, Kathy Noble, Megan Rooney
5 Jul 2015

Today Sunday July 5th 2015 4pm–5pm 

For the final part of Columbidae, Laura McLean-Ferris has invited Sophie Collins, Megan Rooney and Kathy Noble to read directly from Barbara T. Smith's Xerox Poetry Sets (1965-66), and to read a set of their own writing. The event will take the form of a poetry reading in the gallery amongst Smith's works, and will include an introduction by McLean-Ferris. Smith's works were made when she leased a Xerox machine and installed it in her home while she was looking after a family in Pasedena. As well as formal and material experiments with new forms of business machinery and image distribution, the works are also experiments with the artist's voice, which would be later developed in the performance works for which she became well known.

Sophie Collins is co-founder and editor of tender, an online quarterly promoting work by female-identified writers and artists. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry London, The White Review, Ploughshares, Poetic Series (Sternberg Press), The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt), and elsewhere. Reviews and essays are published in Prac Crit, Poetry Review and Dazed & Confused. In 2014 she received an Eric Gregory Award, and was a poet in residence at the LUMA/Westbau exhibition space in Zürich. She is now editing Currently & Emotion, an anthology of translations to be published by Test Centre in late 2015.

Kathy Noble is a writer and curator based in London whose recent work includes a performance-text with David Raymond Conroy presented at Camden Arts Centre and an on-going series of interviews with a generation of feminist artists who began working in the 60s. She was a Curator at Wysing Arts Centre in 2014 where she worked with artists including Cécile B. Evans, David Raymond Conroy, Rachel Maclean, Shana Moulton, Rachel Reupke and James Richards; prior to this was Head of Exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary where she worked on exhibitions with Asco, Geoffrey Farmer, Mark Leckey and Tala Madani. From 2007-2012 she worked as a Curator at Tate Modern where she organised numerous commissions, exhibitions and events including The Tanks programme and Tate Modern Live. She has published numerous essays in magazines, catalogues and books.

Megan Rooney is a Canadian artist, based in London. Recent exhibitions include, Okie Dog on Santa Monica, Almanac Inn, Turin, (2015); Till the stars turn cold, Glasgow Sculpture Studios (2015); Tilia Americana, Opening Times Digital Commissions (2014); Der Leone have Sept Cabeça (with Quinn Latimer), CRAC, Alsace (2014); Pleasure and Charity - sharing in the experience, Art Gallery of Ontario (2014). O labor, Sister Continent (with Quinn Latimer), Frieze evening of performances at David Roberts Art Foundation (2014). This summer she will present, Last Days. Last Days. Last Days. a newly commissioned performance at the Serpentine Gallery. 

The exhibition Columbidae: The Poetry Sets can be viewed Thursday - Sunday 12-6pm and continues until 5th July 2015



Columbidae is the name for the bird family that includes doves and pigeons.

Columbidae, part one was a group show of work by Essex Olivares, Mélanie Matranga, Barbara T. Smith and Dena Yago that considered some recent collapses of work into life 


Generously supported by FLUXUS and The Arts Council Of England

Contraindicaties: Overgevoeligheid, gelijktijdig gebruik van stikstofmonoxide donateurs of nitraten, in welke vorm. Cialis mag niet ingenomen worden door patienten die ooit (tijdelijk) hun gezichtsvermogen hebben verloren als gevolg van een probleem met de bloedtoevoer naar de oogzenuw. Het mag ook niet gebruikt worden door patienten met een cialis bestellen cialis hoge bloeddruk of hartritmestoornissen, of patienten die recent een hartaanval of een beroerte hebben gehad.