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  • Pencils belonging to poet Christopher Reid. Limited edition print by Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney.

  • The Secret Life of the Pencil exhibition at Paul Smith’s No.9 Albemarle Street flagship store, London.

  • Paul Smith with David Bailey and his favorite pencil.


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Paul Smith presents “The Secret Life of the Pencil”

A new exhibition at Paul Smith’s No.9 Albemarle Street flagship store examines the creative universe hidden behind one of the most important tools of expression: the humble pencil. Titled “The Secret Life of the Pencil”, the exhibition is curated by product designer Alex Hammond and photographer Mike Tinney, featuring a series of large-format, hyperrealistic photos of the individual pencils that creative heroes like David Bailey, Tom Dixon, Stephen Fry, Mike Leigh, Philippe Stark, Stephen Wiltshire, Peter Saville, Anish Kapoor and Paul Smith use in their work. In a time when the digital is replacing the analogue, the exhibit pays tribute to the use of the pencil, reminding us its contribution to all creative fields throughout the years. At the same time, it explores the stories hidden behind it, with the pencil becoming a window into the creative process of its famous owners, a distinctive fingerprint.

During the exhibition, a series of unique, framed prints, as well as a one-off, Japanese silk covered Solander collector’s box-set, containing all 53 prints from the exhibition, will be auctioned online via Paddle8. At the same time, a selection of editioned posters and limited edition prints will be also available via Paul Smith’s online store. All proceeding of the online auction will go to Children in Crisis, a charity whose aim is to give children in some of the world’s poorest countries the education they need to help transform their lives, using the symbol of the pencil as a catalyst for creativity and a positive tool to battle poverty and trauma.

The humble pencil is found where most of mankind’s greatest achievements begin: buildings, artworks, photographs, products, graphics, novels, poems, fashion, cartoons and even films”, explain Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney. “This photographic project seeks to savor the use of pencils – documenting them in stunning detail, and thereby showing the secrets of their use and revealing an insight into their users: professionals who have defined themselves and their craft with the help of the modest stylus.The Secret Life of Pencil will remain on view until June 3, 2015, at Paul Smith’s No.9 Albemarle Street store, London.