Pieces of me: Bob & Roberta Smith

Agit-prop artist Bob & Roberta Smith talks to us about painting and politics - and a few more of his favourite things.

On bikes

My bike has revolutionised my life. It’s a fantastic piece of design, and it fits a tall man like me.

I am just not interested in objects that much. This bike got me really excited about objects again.

You can go to the shop and buy it! But I’m not going to buy another one.

On making a noise

A friend of mine bought this trombone at a car boot, but it doesn’t work properly.

I’ve had it for five years and played the trombone at lots of gigs in the background ruining the songs for the band.

Making even more noise

Again this is from a boot fair. It is an absolutely brilliant synthesizer and makes a great sound.

I am big fan of Kraut rock (techno German rock from the 1970s) and this does make a great sound.

Can you hear me?

This megaphone is like a sign. It’s a way of amplifying the human mind so you have ideas. Then you put this to your face and spell out these ideas.

It’s important people realise that there is a political system out there for us to use.

Then you can grab those ideas and think, "I don’t need that," or "Do I really like that?"

A gift from Dad

Sign writer brushes are quite expensive. These have long sable hair which is cut flat at the end so when you paint. You can get the sharp edges at the end of the letter form.

They don’t make these kind of brushes any more because sign writing art is such an arcane thing. There is no market for them.

My dad bought these off a man who died years ago. There’s something about their craft and handmadeness that is really good.

On nasty questions

Art is about asking difficult questions and trying to get replies - interesting replies.

So I think that the idea of Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask campaign is a wonderful thing.

It strikes a lot of chords with me because it confronts the issue of climate change straight away. So much of green politics seems to be based on abstinence really.

There is this idea that we all have to withdraw from something in order to save the planet.

Obviously it is not any individuals’ activity that’s really going to save the planet.

What we need is a much more political kind of activity. The Big Ask campaign is very good because it is broad and cross party.

It’s important people realise that there is a political system out there for us to use. We don’t use it enough. Ask some nasty, difficult questions.

Win a signed Bob & Roberta book 

Bob & Roberta was unlucky to miss getting his work picked for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square recently. It’s an illuminated peace sign powered by the sun and wind, entitled Make Art, Not War.

You can win a signed copy of his brilliant book Make Your Own Damn Art by entering our competition.

Also see his diary Art U Need: My Part in the Public Art Revolution (Black Dog, £19.95)

Read more interviews on our Living pages