Ali Smith on Barbara Hepworth, Pauline Boty, Tacita Dean, and Lorenza Mazzetti
Play • 1 hr 5 min
In episode 64 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the acclaimed writer ALI SMITH (!!!!) on Pauline Boty, Barbara Hepworth, Tacita Dean and Lorenza Mazzetti !!!!

[This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

The FINAL episode of Season 5 of the GWA Podcast, we speak to one of the GREATEST authors and writers in the world, Ali Smith, about the artists who act as the 'spine' for her recently-completed series of four stand-alone novels, grouped as the Seasonal Quartet:

Pauline Boty in Autumn, Barbara Hepworth in Winter, Tacita Dean in Spring, and filmmaker Lorenza Mazetti in Summer, who in their own way, as presences as people, spirits, or their work, interweave into each story so beautifully. 

Written in the space of four years, between 2016–2020, these books track and are witness to, some of the most unprecedented, and extraordinary events in living history. Beginning with Autumn, known as the first-Brexit novel, the final book in the series, Summer, was written in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Born in Inverness, Scotland, and now based in Cambridge, Ali Smith is acclaimed for her fictional work, and non-fiction writing on some of my favourite artists. The author of Public library and other stories, How to be both, Shire, Artful, and MANY OTHERS, Smith has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, The Man Booker Prize, and has won the Bailey's Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award for her brilliant novel, How To Be Both.

One of the most important artists to change the face of British Pop Art (as well as being an Actress, TV star, radio commentator, who read Proust) Pauline Boty EPITOMISED the possibilities of the modern Pop woman. She captured the glamour and vivacity of the 1960s, including those of music stars to film icons, think Marylin to Elvis, Boty worshipped the proliferation of imagery available in the post-War era. 

The Titan of British sculpture, Hepworth set up a studio in St Ives during World War II, and is hailed for her small-to-colossal hand-carved wooden sculptures. Cast in stone and bronze, sometimes embedded with strings or flashes of colour, and  fluctuating between hard and soft, light and dark, round and straight, solid and hollow, the spirit of Hepworth's work is at the spine of Spring and through Ali's incredible writing makes us SEE differently. 

Filmmaker and artist, Dean, seven-metre-wide work The Montafon Letter is a vast chalk drawing on nine blackboards joined together, looms in Spring (and is also an exhibition visited by the protagonist Richard at the Royal Academy). Dean says in some ways the work about Brexit and about hope; “hope that the last avalanche will uncover us”. Much like Smith's post-Brexit novels. 

A new artist for me, this story of the Italian-born filmmaker who came of age in the 1960s is one of the most profound in the history of art. I am not going to tell you anything else other than listen to Ali tell her story. 


We also discuss How To Be Both at the very start!

Follow us:
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Winnie Simon
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield
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