Frank Sidney Smith was born in 1928 in the Thanet Union Workhouse, just as that oppressive system was ending. He never knew who his father was and was raised in a children’s home, while his mother remained in the workhouse. His wife, a schizophrenic, died from lithium poisoning after being steadily overdosed by her hospital. His son, also a schizophrenic, committed suicide by throwing himself from a block of flats.
Frank Smith was driven to paint his life story both by his creative urge and by the need to come to terms with the trauma of an emotionally gruelling life. His paintings, constructed from both memory and research, reflect the sorrows of his life but also reveal a resilience and strength of character which has enabled him to come through life without rancour or bitterness. The works are surprisingly uplifting and optimistic.
Image credit: Frank Sidney Smith, My New Tool, 1984