One of the ways that the Trust continues to honour Steven’s life and work is through activities and workshops for schools.
This year, artist Claire Paterson, former winner of the Hunt Medal presented by the Trust, led an intensive two-day life-painting workshop at the Gallery of Modern Art for fifteen pupils from five Glasgow schools.
The work was once again of a very high standard and the young people developed new skills through Claire’s careful tutoring.
There was an enormous amount of dedication, energy and talent on display during this year’s workshop, and the attendees were all a credit to their schools.
When asked what aspects of the 2023 Steven Campbell Trust workshop they found most helpful, pupils responded:
‘I thought the most useful aspect of this workshop was having the space to create in any style I wanted.’
‘Having a dedicated space to work on art without firm expectations… trying out something new.’
‘Great advice from Claire and a great opportunity with the live model.’
‘The simple help of Claire’s suggestions.’
‘The tutors/artists who gave great advice and extra help.’
‘Advice given by the artists and the chance to work with new media/techniques.’
‘The tutors/helpers were very informative, showed new helpful techniques, were extremely nice.’
‘Made me more confident and loose.’
‘The constant help and criticism from the teachers – thanks to them I have learned a lot.’
We would like to give a massive thank you to Cass Art for generously supplying us with a wealth of art materials for use during the workshop – as well as gifting a magnificent goody bag filled with £65 worth of art supplies to each participating pupil. For charitable organisations like the Steven Campbell Trust, such support makes a huge difference, allowing educational events like this to run. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Cass Art in the future.
Our thanks also to the staff at Glasgow Museums for their support, and for providing us with a wonderful creative environment in which to hold the class.
Here are some of the impressive results from this year’s workshop:
In the Creative Maelstrom that is the GSA Degree Show, success can be measured in the ability of a piece of work to grab and hold our attention above the clamour all around and so it was with the work of our Hunt Medal winner for 2022, Lily Krempel.
Our medal is awarded for ‘Poetic Creativity’ so the artist needs to have created work which speaks to that criterion, not in a literal sense but in the emotional connection made between the viewer and the work.
‘ Fire Dials’ is both sculpture and performance and when viewed in person connects viewer and piece in a sensory way that transcends time and place making it almost primeval.
Lily has also been a recipient of the RSA John Kinross Scholarship, to spend a period of 6 to 12 weeks in Florence to research and develop her practice. She has also been selected as one of the RSA ‘New Contemporaries’.
We at the Trust are delighted to be able to contribute to the launch of this emerging artists career.
She’s definitely one to watch!
Carol Campbell, June 2022
Lily Krempel, Statement:
My degree show space told the story of a site-specific work.
In the absence of ritual, I formed my own. A walk following a map of specific moments and sites overlaid on new land, geometrically plotted, measured by the degrees of my compass and by my footsteps. Wearing my metal structure flat-packed and fitted upon my back, I carried the sculptures. At the last site, I laid down a fire.
The space holds the remnants of the work, sculptural props for a happening; the fire-dials upon their structure, charred Scots pine and silver birch, a spider’s web, my backpack with spiked feet for their structure, a map with compass readings and footsteps and a video filmed at Lochan Mor, ‘Lily Loch’ made with the help of my mum, Martha.
The dials are so named as they exist as a piece of equipment for rotation. A traditional dial is spun on a telephone or tuned to select a radio frequency or read to tell the time. The fire-dials revolve as they trace the fire; its size, the direction of wind current, the rising temperature of airflow.
In the making of these ‘fire-dials’ I used the compasses and measuring tools that belonged to a beloved friend who passed away. The tools with which we work, give rise to the art. Cut from steel sheets, the shapes have become weaponry designed to slice through darkness.
The sensation of darkness is tangible in the body. Grief, in its many forms can feel like this. A sense of bearing the weight of an unshifting shadow.
I am inspired by memories of my grandmothers Christmas pyramid candle ornaments. The origin of the delicate kinetic candle decoration dates back to the Middle Ages. It was traditional in southern and western Europe to bring evergreen branches, into the home and hang them in order to ward off gloomy, sullen feelings through the dark and cold winter months. In northern and eastern Europe traditional candles were used to achieve this goal. The Christmas pyramid unified these two traditions, consisting of handcrafted kinetic elements hanging over a network of candles. A symbol of Winter celebration; a vessel for uplifting the spirits.
To aid the mobility of my work, I designed and built it to be flat-packed. In order to carry my metalworks across site, I constructed a frame from ash to wear upon my back with small steel fittings, ash dowels and specifically sized holes in the wood to hold and piece together the metal structure in their separate balanced parts. It was important to me, that I carry the work, the weight of it, the movement of it. I was inspired by the functionality of timber structures and baskets worn by people of mountain communities across the world used to carry belongings and food to their locality.
Part of my installation included a video work, accessible online following this link:
Dressing Above Your Station is a virtual exhibition conceived and curated by Beca Lipscombe and Mairi MacKenzie. It is produced by Panel and developed in partnership with ISODESIGN and Rob Kennedy.
Dressing Above Your Station is generously funded by Creative Scotland and Glasgow Life, the charity that delivers culture and sport in the city. It is supported by ISODESIGN and The Glasgow School of Art and presented by Tramway, part of Glasgow Life.
November: 1992 Acrylic on Paper 178×149.2 cm Pinocchio, The Habit of the Shrike
The following extract is from the Catalogue essay by Michael Bracewell that accompanied Steven’s 2017 exhibition at Marlborough London.
‘For so often the young men in Campbell’s paintings, absorbed, swept along or subjugated by weird scenes, reminiscent of fairy tale or myth, but then skewed into absurdity, seem despite themselves to be (and are sometimes confirmed to be, in the titles of the pictures) seekers-after-truth, of one sort or another. They might be poets, amateur philosophers, witness participants in a dysfunctional’Pilgrims Progress’ – or perhaps just observers of these pursuits: chance bystanders, local boys, who had somehow become amnesiac victims, or protagonists in some cosmic game of ‘Cluedo’.
Murder mystery becomes art mystery, becomes “the myth of themselves” that Hynes identifies in his definition of the ‘charade’. Pinocchio, the Habit of the Shrike (1990) depicts a dark landscape with fir trees, a stream, toadstools at the foot of some rocks; and a figure that resembles Campbell himself, his face and upper body in semi shadow, casually yet ritualistically seated on a folded chair, his right hand resting on the handle of an upended tennis racket. A handsomely feathered shrike ( a bird that impales insects and small vertebrates on thorns or spikes, in order to tear them into more manageable pieces) perched on a briar. Meanwhile a gold haired Pinocchio figure, painted limbs scuffed and worn, his ‘liar’s’ nose obscenely and viciously extended to a sharp point, reaches out his long right arm, and impales the seated figure’s stomach with his thin, pointed finger.’ – Michael Bracewell
Steven has revisited his depiction of Lytton Strachey complete with cricket cap only this time he puts himself, as artist, into the central role. He has created the Pinocchio wooden boy who is resentful at the artists lack of ability to transform him completely into a physical reality.
December: A4 size drawing Ink on paper from a series of drawings and prints Steven did based on a merging of the life of St Francis of Assisi with the legend of the Apprentice pillar at Rosslyn Chapel.
Steven was not particularly religious but he was extremely spiritual and dearly loved St Francis and everything he represented. We would make annual pilgrimages to the Church in Assisi which houses the amazing Giotto frescoes of the life of the Saint. I remember he even volunteered to travel out to help in the aftermath of the earthquake that caused such damage to the town and the church.
He also brought along a young Franciscan friar to talk at the creative arts project (9 V) that he had set up to encourage the teenagers of the 9 rural villages around Stirling to get involved in various cultural activities from life drawing to script writing, film directing, music etc. It still resonates today with the young people who attended it all those years ago. Several of whom went on to careers in the arts.
This image is a depiction of an actual event we witnessed while living in New York.
Steven and I were in the subway station close to our home in Lafayette Street waiting for an uptown connection.
The station was not busy so was relatively quiet allowing us to hear this rustling and squeaking sound coming from below the platform. We looked down to see a large rat with its head stuck way inside a donut bag running along the side of the track. It had obviously been eating the remnants of a discarded donut and had somehow got itself stuck inside the bag. True story!
As ever with Steven the story becomes wrapped in an enigma of references and composition.
We have the quasi self portrait of the train driver or the director of the piece while the curving train track draws on similarities with the track from his Crash Cubism piece for the Third Eye Centre exhibition of ‘On Form and Fiction’
There are other similarities too with the cut up figures and the general feeling of impending doom as the train/subway hoves into sight.
Work 2. The October image is a mock up Poster for ‘The Caravan Club’ exhibition.
Talbot Rice Gallery 2002
Caravan Club Poster
Mixed media: Acrylic on thin card with masking tape
Size: 28 x 38 cm
The following is an extract from the exhibition catalogue by Duncan Macmillan.
‘Campbell’s chosen title for this exhibition is The Caravan Club, but as he chooses to use the word caravan and not the Americanism, trailer, and as the caravans themselves appear in the paintings, these are not the glossy mobile homes of an American trailer park, already in Hollywood films iconographic short-hand for a transient world beyond the edge of conventional ordered society. Instead they are the bizarre extension into mobile form of the complacent everyday, suburban world that is presented by the British holiday caravan. They clutter up our roads, doddering along behind underpowered family saloons, their drivers believing themselves secure in their cocoon of suburban life-style, oblivious to the boiling rage and frustration of the snaking tail of cars compelled to follow. Not that Campbell’s subject is the fulfilment of some fantasy of road rage by frustrated drivers. It is rather that seen thus the caravan and the feeble protection offered by its flimsy cocoon of normality are a metaphor for the fragility of the ordinary, everyday world. A thin skin of fibreglass is all that protects the caravan’s cosy interior, a tidy little simulacrum of the known and familiar world, from the hostility of the world around and the arbitrariness of fate. We all tow something like it behind us, our belief in the order of the ordinary; but it is no defence against sudden and radical decline into rampant disorder in the wider world over which we have no control.
As an interesting aside The Caravan Club (the organisation) got in touch with the Talbot Rice and were threatening to sue over copyright infringement of their name so disclaimer notices had to be placed throughout the exhibition to inform the public that the works on show had nothing to do with the actual Caravan Club. This just added another layer of frisson to the proceedings.
This event was hosted on Zoom, 6-7pm, Wednesday 29 September.
The Steven Campbell Trust were delighted that art historian Dr Gráinne Rice gave the 2021 Steven Campbell Trust Lecture, the tenth in the series.
This talk explores Campbell’s discernible Surrealist affinities and representations of crime and violence in his work. From early work such as the 1981 collaborative performance Poised Murder, to the later 2000-02 Psycho Rugs series, Campbell’s work incorporated Surrealism’s interest in crime and the subconscious. His work synthesised ideas and imagery borrowed from artistic precursors with elements borrowed from popular culture, cinema, and literature.
Rice has recently completed a PhD on Campbell at Edinburgh College of Art. The event was chaired by Leverhulme Fellow, Professor Patricia Allmer (University of Edinburgh).
For a subtitled version of this presentation please click on the Watch on YouTube option, then turn on subtitles/closed captions option.
6-7pm, Wednesday 29 September. Free, but ticketed. Online via Zoom.
Steven Campbell, Physco [Psycho] Rugs Hosta! (c. 2002)
The Steven Campbell Trust are pleased to announce that art historian Dr Gráinne Rice will give the 2021 Steven Campbell Trust Lecture, the tenth in the series.
This talk will explore Campbell’s discernible Surrealist affinities and representations of crime and violence in his work. From early work such as the 1981 collaborative performance Poised Murder, to the later 2000-02 Psycho Rugs series, Campbell’s work incorporated Surrealism’s interest in crime and the subconscious. His work synthesised ideas and imagery borrowed from artistic precursors with elements borrowed from popular culture, cinema, and literature.
Rice has recently completed a PhD on Campbell at Edinburgh College of Art. The event will be chaired by Leverhulme Fellow, Professor Patricia Allmer (University of Edinburgh).
This piece was created for an exhibition called ‘Chesterfield Dreams’ at the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney in the Spring of 1996. Steven had moved away from painting at this time and had found a new fascination in working with clay, found objects, velvet and leather fabrics and a resin called (if I remember correctly) Crystal Sheen, an epoxy coating that he used on several works and continued to use even when he returned to painting. You can see how he used it in a similar way to decorate the jewel like eyes on the crown in the portrait of Joan Sutherland, a commission for the Glasgow Concert Hall.
Steven had been struggling with his own mental health issues for a number of years and had fallen out of the public gaze but he continued to work every day. As he said himself: ‘I have an impossibility not to work’ . . . listen to Stark Talk interview 2006: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p090x8hv
He was, as ever, endlessly reading, watching movies, listening to music and making his own crazy Campbell mix in his head. Alfred Hitchcock was a great favourite at this time, hence the title of the piece Harry to Heaven, the Harry referred to being the eponymous character from the movie The Trouble with Harry a black comedy from 1955, where a dead body is found and while no one in the hamlet really minds they all come up with theories as to how they are responsible.
I always feel it’s better to allow Steven to speak for himself whenever possible so the following is taken again from the Stark Talk radio interview in which he gives his own opinion of his mental health at the time and his thoughts on the exhibition at the Pier.
STEVEN: You still have this other thing you know, of the pointlessness of it all. All these stupid questions of existence and everything. The constant echoes that go on in my mind all the time, it’s like constantly saying this, what’s the reason? Why? Why? Why? No reason! No reason! The impossibility of it all.
EDI: Well between 1993 and 2002, that was the time between two big shows at The Talbot Rice Gallery
STEVEN: Jesus years! Why is it always 7?
EDI: That’s nine, that’s nine
STEVEN: Is it 9? I thought it was 7…. I had one up in Orkney
EDI: Chesterfield Dreams
STEVEN: I loved that show! I mean who’d think of it, the back of a couch a sofa then cut a strange shape in it and then put in a white plaster sculpture inside it as if the chair itself is dreaming.
And that last sentence sums up for me everything I continue to miss from my life. The poetry of a mind that can see the dream where the rest of us only see the chair.
In May 1994, the worlds largest commercial operator of airports, BAA plc, launched a different type of programme – an art programme – to enhance passenger, staff and business partner experience of all its airport environments and develop an art collection of national merit.
“I want to emphasise the importance of first impressions and the need to give our visitors a strong sense of Britain’s energy as soon as they arrive. That could be done if we used our airports, train links and ports as opportunities to give a fresh impression. BAA is determined to champion British artists at its airports.”
Tony Blair, Prime Minister.
Steven was approached to come up with an idea for a large painting for Glasgow Airport and the following is his own description as it appeared in the catalogue for BAA art programme: Art at the Airports.
“This painting is made up of three views of the City of Glasgow: the Clyde Estuary; the view from the countryside; a view from the University Tower.
The symbolism of the painting centres around the story of the emblem of Glasgow. It also takes account of St Mungo’s stories, trying to give history a vision. I’ve aimed to get the balance between nature and the city; the ‘Dear Green Place’, idea.
It’s been tempting to add something dramatic, but it would have been the wrong thing to do for the location. It’s not the place to be dark and moody. No way. I want people to be uplifted; invigorated. I love Glasgow!”
The two sketches shown here both feature fritillaries which are a nod to Mackintosh but also to the fact that they grew wild in the ground surrounding our farmhouse in the Fintry hills. The signpost was a leitmotif in Steven’s earlier work based around his invented character Hunt and often depicted Oxford to Salisbury, but in this case shows directions to areas surrounding our then home. The background hills are the view that Steven often painted and form part of the vista that can be seen from our Kippen home.
As Directors of the Steven Campbell Trust we take great pleasure in announcing that our prize for ‘Poetic Creativity’ demonstrated in the work of a graduating student of Fine Art has been awarded this year to Ella Josephine Campbell of FAP for her film Wood Sprite and her Human Cave Installation.
The award was made by a unanimous decision after careful scrutiny of all Fine Art practices in a year which saw work of an exceptionally high standard being considered.
We felt Ella’s work demonstrated not only craftsmanship but the highest level of artistic integrity.
‘I was completely drawn into the film and loved her sound too’ ‘I loved Ella Campbell’s film and stills, really strong work’ ‘My stand out was Ella Campbell!’ ‘The skill of the puppetry and movement sequences with the life size puppet was sensitive and moving’
These were just a few of our Directors comments.
We are delighted with our choice and congratulate Ella and wish her well for the future.
Carol Campbell, The Steven Campbell Trust, June 2021
Statement from Ella Josephine Campbell, June 2021:
Such a prestigious award and recognition is so motivational for me in this key transition out of Art school, trying to find my place in a challenging art world, and finding the courage to keep on sharing and disseminating my practice through vulnerable times.