Smart often found artistic inspiration through unexpected sources and in chance encounters. The imagery in The stilt race was drawn from a photograph of boys on stilts in an Ethiopian community. Smart inserted these figures into a night-time urban setting to create a surreal scene. They bring height, drama and a sense of the uncanny to an otherwise mundane view. The signpost with the arrow and the yellow rectangles of a street crossing foreshadow Smart’s later keen interest in the subject of roads and street signs.