The art of protest: Art is your human right by Bob and Roberta Smith

DESIGN ACTIVISM, Uncategorized


I have known the name and vaguely the work of Rob and Roberta Smith for some time but it is the campaign with students to save the closure of the CASS, London Met’s art department, that alerted me further to his work. An ethos revolving around art and creativity being for all is something that permeates his body of work and the project titled, Art is your human right, is no exception to this. Deciding to stand against Michael Gove, Education Minister, in the constituency he represents of Surrey Heath, Smith took direct step in challenging the beliefs he disagreed with in the political sphere. By including himself in this domain with his colourful, joyful aesthetic, it opened up a sense of accessibility to the otherwise elitist world of politics. It is not just a piece of design activism against physical space, Surrey Heath constituency, but the claiming of a otherwise snobbish political place that seems completely unachievable to most.

After facing limitations at secondary school, over the choice of three creative options which resulted in a lengthy battle that I thankfully won, I completely understand Smiths’ desires in his manifesto. Smith (2014) states that ‘It’s almost impossible for kids to study art and music together, let alone dance or drama as well’, which I know all too well the reality of and therefore the need to have artist figures defending the artistic rights of children and teens. A piece of work by fellow British artist, Grayson Perry, highlights the absolutely necessity of Smith’s campaign to protect the arts. The piece by Perry (1996), Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot, that can be seen below has ‘I was a mad kid and now I ain’t. I got out coz I could paint’ inscribed into it and reveals massively the importance of the support the arts provides.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 19.03.30

Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot, Grayson Perry, 1996. Photo by Nick Moss.

Smith, R. (2014) Why I’m standing against Michael Gove. Available at: 1/02/2016).

Perry, G. (1996) Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot [Sculpture]. Available at: (Accessed: 1/02/2016)

William Morris Gallery (2015) Bob and Roberta Smith: Art is your human right trailer Available at: (Accessed: 2/01/2016).

B, James. (2016) Know Your Rights: the campaigns of Bob and Roberta Smith. Available at: (Accessed: 2/01/2016).

It’s Nice That (2016) . Available at: Accessed: 2/01/2016).





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