Derick Smith has returned to his home town of Kells where he has established a new studio practice to sell his art through galleries internationally.

Kells native's art influenced by the world

Artist Derick Smith has lived and worked in many places throughout the world building his reputation as an international artist.

Recently returned to his home town of Kells, he has established a new studio practice in the town from where he continues to sell his art through galleries in France, New York, Dubai among other countries.

A past pupil of St Ciaran's Community School, Smith initially studied design in Sligo Institute and shortly after graduation he began working for a design firm in New York. The impressions of the crowded city streets led to him developing an interest in photography which he began studying in the evenings.

“The life and energy of the city was at first overwhelming having come from a small town but by taking photographs I began to break it down into more comprehensible parts,” he explains.

He held his first solo exhibition in New York in 2006 where he showed photos of both his native Kells and those of the streets and people of New York.

“I developed film at home in the bathtub in Brooklyn and then rented space in one of the city dark rooms. I loved the alchemy of the process, seeing the outline of an image appear on a negative and then working it onto paper by hand.” As digital technology became more affordable, the demand for the chemical darkrooms decreased and the majority offering rented space went on to close down.

“I couldn’t find the same connection with digital as I had found with chemical photography," he says. "I needed to use my hands to make the work, I just couldn’t feel that same connection with a computer.”

Returning to Ireland, Smith relocated to Dublin and through continuing education studied fine art in NCAD, graduating in 2012. Initially he worked out of a bedroom but then became involved in artist-run organisations in the city such as Block-T and Pallas Projects. His work took on increasing colour and movement inspired in part by the growing street art scene at home and from his time abroad.

"I loved the art of old just as much as that art I saw graffitied on the streets and wanted to take certain energies from those and blend them together."

While living in Dublin, Smith went on to exhibit in many group shows worldwide in places like Moscow, Beirut, Brussels, New York, Chicago and Texas. In 2015 he held his first Irish solo exhibition in Dublin and in 2017 after a studio residency, he held a solo exhibition in Munich. The OPW acquired one of his pieces in 2018 which now adorns the office wall of the finance minister in the Dail.

One of the artist’s works acquired by the OPW now hangs on the wall of the Department of Finance. His work features bold bright colours and heavy applications of paint used in sculptural ways. There is at once a lightness and a spontaneity to the work which is uplifting and playful.

“I’ve worked and travelled in many places around the world and from these cultures I took on certain flavours, certain influences. Over the years I began to strip away parts of my work in favour of identifying those more universal traits.”

In 2021, Smith’s paintings were exhibited in Dubai and the demand for his work in the Middle East continues to grow. During the pandemic he operated out of a number of makeshift studios but consistently produced art, of this time he says.

“There was an intensity to the early stages of lockdown and that came through in the kind of work I was making. I felt it was important to keep processing and producing as a means to counter the greater uncertainties looming in the atmosphere”

For inspiration he draws most readily from the natural world but is open to all forms of art and expression.

“There is a rich history of visual culture in Kells, and indeed Meath as a whole. From the colourful knotwork and illustrations in the Book of Kells to the intricate sculptural stone carving in the cross of Kells and even those prehistoric carvings at Newgrange and Loughcrew. So many sources to draw from and to feed the imagination with.”

Of his many exhibitions one that stands out was the opening exhibition of a new gallery in Moscow in 2015.

“Being invited to exhibit and being not only the sole Irish artist but also the only non-Russian in the show was a real privilege. The local culture minister attended and there was such an intrigue about the work and how I had come to exhibit there. It was a real testament to how art and creativity can bring a community together.” 2022 is lining up to be a busy year for the artist with many shows planned at home and abroad.

“I am working on a solo exhibition for a New York gallery which I am quite excited about because it will be my first solo exhibition there since 2006. Equally as exciting though is the opportunity to host a large exhibition in Kells and to showcase the ideas and energy gained through so many experiences abroad, back in my hometown.”

One of Derick’s most recent works is currently on show at the Surveyor exhibition in Solstice Art Centre, Navan running until 23rd December. You can see more of his work at or