You might recognise Liza Campbell, Cawdor castle’s 6th Earl Hugh Campbell’s second daughter, for her recent campaigning to end male primogeniture. Previous works by this journalist turned artist which made us sit up and pay attention include the ‘Dark Boxes’, a series of small three dimensional dioramas featuring dolls in awkward situations. These sinister figures wearing beaming smiles, Campbell explains, ‘are simply surreal while others express some difficult time that I have had, that allow me to look back and laugh’.
While Campbell spent her childhood in Macbeth’s castle in Scotland, she was persuaded to set up camp in Kenya as a young adult following a holiday to Africa. It was here that she became enthralled by engraved soapstone, a traditional local material, and resolved to recreate it herself. ‘It was quite complicated negotiating to buy some untouched pieces’, Campbell explained, ‘the soapstone dealers thought I was a bit wrong in the head’. Most intriguing in Campbell’s adaption of local art forms is her refusal to comply with any sort of Primitivism: ‘it was important I engraved nothing remotely ethnic into the soapstone because I didn’t want to be a European mimicking the local’s work’.
Far from a second hand mimic, in this show at Temple Art Gallery London, Campbell presents her ‘Other Worlds’ paintings and sewn works which are typically vibrant and colourful. This gravitational pull towards fluorescent shades can be put down to her African influences, something Campbell claims she used to fight against: ‘but it just doesn’t come naturally and bright orange or flamingo pinks suddenly gate-crashed’.
These new works are also greatly influenced by cartography, a fascination that Campbell nurtured at school drawing wobbly lines for maps in Geography, during hours of gazing at the fictional maps in the Lord of the Rings books and being surrounded by the African belief of ‘maps of the heart’: a topographical take on someone’s psyche.
Returning to the theme of cartography, Campbell has produced a series of works that are entirely accurate, engaging the viewer with an unfamiliar vision of map making. With individual countries and continents sewn and the world repeatedly painted, Campbell explains: ‘it moves me that we are this blue marble in space and the landmasses – home to all Noah’s former-passengers – are these certain shapes’.
Particular works to look out for include ‘The Unwelcome Guest’, in which ‘all the ocean currents are descriptions of the ways people can overstay their welcome and generally blot their copy book when they venture away from home’. Campbell also picks out ‘A Hypochondriac’s World’ as a highlight: ‘inspired by a friend who never knowingly recognises full health, it catalogues all the moans and groans of a paranoid traveller’.
As the wonderful sum of her past, or as she puts it – ‘the cocktail shaker with our internal life’, Campbell is determined to cast her projects out into the world. And as for the future, Campbell confesses, ‘I don't know where my thoughts will drag me next, but I'm up for the ride.
Keen to learn more? Click here to check out Liza Campbell's website.
|What||Liza Campbell, Temple Gallery|
|Where||Temple Gallery, 6 Clarendon Cross, London, W11 4AP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holland Park (underground)|
11 Oct 14 – 24 Oct 14, 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|