Bob and Roberta Smith 

Shop Local 

19 August to 14 October 2006

Peer has commissioned internationally acclaimed artist(s) Bob & Roberta Smith to carry out a major public art project to coincide with the Shoreditch Festival from 5th to 20th August 2006, and which will continue for a year.

Called ‘SHOP LOCAL’ the artworks will take the form of five large text pieces installed or painted directly onto walls in the Shoreditch area that identify five specific small, sole trader businesses located along Hoxton Street. These works acknowledge and salute those faded painted advertisements from the late 19th and early 20th century that are the ghosts of businesses past, and celebrate the importance of the local entrepreneur as a key component of any thriving community. This project comes at a time when the number of small businesses is declining at an alarming rate. The government’s recent All Party Small Shops Group report found that more than 7,000 family or individually owned shops in the UK disappeared between 2001 and 2005 – a slump of 21%.

Using humour as his weapon, Bob & Roberta Smith believes in Art and Democracy and invites us to question high art and the role that aesthetic elitism plays in society today. Key to his practice is sign-writing, often used for faux political proclamations or revolutionary-in-spirit sloganeering. Artist and broadcaster Matthew Collings has said, “Bob has a genius for joining together different rhetorical styles to make something mildly anarchistic. Even the mildness has a touch of genius.”

SHOP LOCAL operates on a number of levels. It has a strong campaigning element which is anti-branding, anti-globalisation, anti-corporate marketing, anti-carbon emissions and anti-yuppification. It is also perhaps tinged with nostalgia, championing the little guy in the face of capitalism and urban development. This project also joins in the spirit of other campaigns such as The Evening Standard’s‘Save our Small Shops’, The Women’s Institute’s ‘Packaging Day of Action’, the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Clone Town Britain’ and the Friends of the Earth’s ‘Keep it Local’.

A special issue of the Shoreditch Map, dedicated to the Shoreditch Festival, and featuring Bob and Roberta Smith, were made available in shops, cafés, restaurants and other locations throughout the Shoreditch area.

Transport for London’s Platform for Art scheme featured a poster specially designed by Bob and Roberta Smith that was displayed throughout the underground network.

Shop Local Bag:
Bob and Roberta Smith have produced an eco/ethical canvas SHOP LOCAL shopping bag specially for this project. Buy a bag  from £30 and fill it with locally purchased goods, and support your local shops.

Bob and Roberta Smith is represented by  Hales Gallery, London.

This project has been generously supported by: