After three years at the Southend School of Art in the 1940s, G Roland Smith was conscripted into the RAF where he made anatomical models and illustrations. He then became a schoolmaster, and has continued teaching ever since, combining this with a freelance commercial practice, mostly designing educational aids and publications. His more original works were exhibited in several London galleries and published by Athena Reproductions. He has written books on crafts and on religion. He is a member of the Chartered Society of Designers and an associate of the College of Preceptors.
The Apocalypse Series has occupied this artist intermittently over the past ten years – possibly his most challenging commission. "The Apocalypse", he says "is full of powerful literary imagery which does not easily translate into visual terms." So each illustration goes through a long and worrying period of gestation before the composition can begin to take shape. When it does, the problems are mainly technical – ink, water-colour and crayon. The pictures are meant to be fairly timeless – not locked into any historical context. "Why shouldn’t John have a pair of designer sunglasses?" Viewers, therefore, will hopefully draw their own conclusions, and interpret these strange goings-on as they may relate to themselves. There are sobering lessons to be learned, but the drawings are not graphic sermons: there is plenty of humour to be found here.
Roland Smith has worked, all along, in close like-minded collaboration with The Apocalypse Study Group, whose members have specified which verses were to be featured and why, but have never, by any means, attempted to dictate the manner of their presentation. They were also chosen with reference to the works of Emanuel Swedenborg.