The final episode in Tony Hiles’ ongoing project chronicling his friend, Michael Smither, finds the artist and composer in his studio wrestling with current paintings and reflecting on art and life.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
Michael Smither 10 celebrates ten years of Smither’s work, bringing a unique collaboration between an artist and a filmmaker to an end. For Tony Hiles, the rules were simple: there would be one documentary a year, filming would capture things as they happened; there were to be no rehearsals; each episode had to be different.
While Smither works intensely on several landscapes and a portrait, he talks of how the past nine months have taken a circular course, leading him back to earlier ideas, which he picks up and works with again. This is borne out by the study of a tree growing out of a cliff face, which inspired a now-finished work. Under the artist’s attentive paintbrush, this piece, which began as a sketch in which Smither neglected to take the hill in the background into account, thereby causing himself no end of trouble, transforms into a vibrant Sunset on the Hills.
The film offers viewers the privileged position of observing the creative process and Smither in a light-hearted and reflective mood as he ponders the questions that arise as a person approaches the end of their life.