Jeffrey Smart

Learning Resource

A painting of train platforms with signs advertising 'Henri Matisse at the Royal Academy April 9 to May 30-05' that obscure a sign for Ashford. A few people wait on the furthest platform and behind them a large apartment building sits against a dark sky.

Jeffrey Smart
Matisse at Ashford


Matisse at Ashford
2005 Tuscany, Italy
oil on canvas
86 x 138 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Gift of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales with assistance from the Collection Circle 2007
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart
Photo: AGNSW

'After a hellish, frustrating day in Paris, good old Goddie came good, and while the train paused at Ashford Station, just after the tunnel, I was given a most heavenly theme. It was night by that time, and I need your help. I saw it from the train window, and made a quick sketch in the back of a paperback book. They are billboards, which are going to have one of [Henri] Matisse’s spiritually barren motifs on them, publicity for the Matisse show now on ...’

Jeffrey Smart to his friend, curator and art historian Barry Pearce.

Read the title of the work and then look at the painting. Who is Matisse and how are his works featured in this painting?

What location has Smart painted? What are the clues in the painting?

Look at the shapes, shadows and markings on the platforms. How does Smart create a sense of perspective in this work?

The location of the painting appears to be a real place. What has the artist done to make it seem dreamlike as well?

Listen to the sound work by YL Hooi in response to Smart’s Matisse at Ashford. Think about the audio as a soundscape to this scene, as if it were a film. What happens next?

Smart was influenced by early twentieth-century Surrealism, especially by the artist Giorgio de Chirico. Use Smart and de Chirico’s works as inspiration for your own composition.

Photograph some familiar signage and streetscapes. Using your photographs as a reference, make a drawing or collage on paper. Think about perspective, pattern and geometry to create depth in space. Include some clues to show the time of day, such as shadows, shading and perspectival angles of leading lines.

You could also use Photoshop or a similar image editing software to do this activity. Create a digital collage using your own photos and other non-copyrighted images found online.

Related Links:

From the Audio Tour:

Music composed by YL Hooi

Advertising repeated on platforms repeated. Rows of windows under a low sky. An afternoon’s hangover of travellers’ chatter. Trains coming and going. Voices on the loudspeaker. All enclosed in a conversation between Smart and Matisse.