Jeffrey Smart

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A painting of a bending street with two boys on very long stilts playing along the right hand side. A woman sits on a grassy knoll on the left and two buildings appear in the background against a dark sky.

Jeffrey Smart
The stilt race

Creation date: 1960

The stilt race
1960 Gadigal Country/Sydney
oil on plywood
56.3 x 91.3 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Purchased 1961
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart
Photo: AGNSW

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.