Poster for ‘The Caravan Club’ exhibition

Steven Campbell Calendar September & October 

Work 1, September. Gouache on Paper

3ft by 4ft approx

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.

Carol Campbell

September 2021

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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.

Life imitates art yet again!

Carol Campbell

October 2021 

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