Joni Smith received a degree in Fine Art Textiles from Loughborough University (2007) before completing a Masters degree in Textile Culture from Norwich University of the arts, the same year. Such lengthy background in textile based disciplines now aids Joni in her use of paper based materials, that being predominantly maps which she collects on her travels, of which include a 7500 km cycling trip from Norwich to Croatia and back in 2015. “We used a combination of GPS and paper maps to find our way through 14 EU countries; sometimes we had no map at all. We enjoyed a kind of slow travel, where one landscape would seamlessly merge into another.”
Joni Smith produces her installations through the intricate manipulation of fragments from maps and atlases. Before assembling the works Joni devises a set of rules to follow and from then on she becomes machine-like in her adherence to them. Through this labour intensive process, as each piece takes shape it is clear to see one world breaking down as another parallel one emerges. By dissecting and reassembling everyday objects and subverting their original intensions Joni is creating a new landscape and new way of seeing.
Despite a playful nature residing in the artists work, which she likens to childhood fantasies and the creation of dens; home to new worlds and adventures, there is also a deeply political message to Joni Smith’s work. She explores ideas surrounding borders and division; questioning the current political climates and inviting viewers to reevaluate their positions, especially as we enter a new technological era, where the idea of a ‘map’ is being reworked, and renovated into portable, downloadable GPS systems which tell us the route we should be navigating.
Joni has had success in her ever expanding list of exhibitions which include solo shows at Targetfollow at Center Point, London (2009), the Fairhurst Gallery (2017) titled DISlocations as well as an installation at the Norwich playhouse (2019). The artist has also worked in an array of residency programmes, including the role of artist in residence at Wymondham College, Wymondham.