Smith was born in Sheffield. After the Second World War he studied at St Martin's School and the Royal College of Art. He later taught at Bath Academy and the Chelsea School of Art.
Smith was a member of the Kitchen Sink School who painted mundane subjects of working class life in a realist style. In the mid-1950s he turned towards abstraction. He said that the title of this painting 'refers to the forms used and has musical connotations'. The cool lime green background creates an atmosphere of calm against which, he explained, 'sound boxes' are superimposed.