Thursday, 12 April 2018

Stepping over the threshold

Procrastination requires immense self - discipline

Stepping over the threshold - The need to comment visually

Stepping into the studio without an idea of what the work will be about forces the hand, it creates a state of uncertainty and demands action. An arbitrary mark starts a dialogue and a conversation begins. What follows is a constant state of flux, an exchange of opinion, argument and assertion, followed by lots of humming & hawing, further proposals  and rumination - the inevitable cycle of this chosen pathway. 

Reading (again) Van Gogh's letters reinforces my belief system - he expresses despair at those artists that produce "polite, technically competent pictures" that ultimately tell you, nothing. Yes, it looks reasonably like that place but does not say anything that involves the sensation of being there, the way the light, wind, colour, air etc ... affects the artist - in other words, images that are without an opinion. 

There are too many painters producing decorative pieces that are devoid of any voice, it all becomes the same banal shite. 

Picasso,was prepared to take a gamble, he didn't want to stand still despite what he had already achieved - for him it was about pushing his boundaries, at 13 he could draw like Raphael. The list of artists that inspire is obviously a long one, I believe they have a link in common, a singular voice that comes about from a genuine desire to say something, an inner drive to create and hone their voice. Gillian Ayres being one of those, a painter of great stature, unwilling to compromise.

With all this whirring around in my head there are plenty of mistakes to be made and, plenty to be learnt - the creating drug produces the most destructive lows and euphoric highs - would I have it it any other way? 

The sense of an arbitrary mark beginning the process poses the questions -  why? what for?
Partly the answer lies in the word process - the process of painting, the application, the translucency, the opacity, the shape - all of these help to inform the next stage and reveal  the images intent and hence, its meaning. Convoluted?  Perhaps, nevertheless I don't want to visually or mentally, stand still.



A Collection of Unconnected Moments

Iberian Overture

Pick n' mix - Contextual Appropriation


Cassis - Reverie


Attested - A Series of Random Impositions

Lacuna - revised

Internal Mapping

Cambodian Boogie - Sensory Overload

Payload -  Overload - Bombing the Innocent


Analysis in Green & Tangerine

Extant - Unfulfilled 

Reminicence - Arles Deconstructed

Isolation Marker

I have been uploading to with paintings and photographs and have utilised a lot of time-lapse videos as above showing the development of a number of works.

Monday, 3 July 2017

The ebb & flow 

... still searching ... moments of  ...  

understanding ... not understanding ... clarity ... confusion ... wonderment ... disillusionment ...

Regardless of how long I have been a practicing artist, the ebb & flow of creativity is still, a seesaw; a careful balancing act, one in which I am both instigator and onlooker, reacting to something; invariably uncertain of its outcome until (possibly) much later on. All of this dialogue constantly moving back & forth between demand and response creates, extreme highs and lows. Of course, it's a natural part of the creative process but it certainly doesn't get any less mentally exhausting.

On the other hand, Andy Warhol said ' Don't think about making art, just get it done...'

Early part of the year involved preparing for a new group exhibition:

It was great to be exhibiting with Inge and Sam, artists whose work I admire, working respectively in glass and photography. We were working around a loose theme; so loose that we did not actually talk about what we were proposing and, in fact, it wasn't until the hanging day that we each found out what each other were showing. It was such a pleasant surprise to see how well the work went together and this was something that a lot of visitors commented on.
I began exploring the idea of "Lost Heritage", thinking about the textile industry and how it was originally so important to the Scottish Borders, every town having a mill; the reality now is different, whilst a few places still exist, it is on a very small scale.

Using screens that had photographic knitted patterns on them (courtesy of Grace at HWU), the starting point was to randomly print onto the canvasses and to then work out its direction.


Lost Heritage Nō 1

Lost Heritage Nō 2

Lost Heritage Nō 3

Lost Heritage Nō 4

Lost Heritage Nō 5

Lost Heritage Nō 6

Lost Heritage Nō 7

Naturally things seep into the psyche and can present themselves in unexpected ways. The following works are a mash up of responses to world events, not as a direct result of one particular thing; I cannot help but be affected by the consequences of interference in other societies and how this perpetuates a ripple effect. A sense of disassociation is ever present, soundbites and spin, we are encouraged to abhor atrocities (and quite rightly) but not those carried out in our name? We never deal with the elephant in the room! 

In 'Payload Overview' there is the irony in the delicate translucent airy quality of looking down onto a tapestry landscape moments before the cargo of destruction will impact. I have always been struck by the video footage from bombing sorties on the news and how we see them as images, so far removed from the reality. It becomes pure cinema, edited and pictorially pleasing. In this regard, there is a sense of irony in all of my images too. 

Payload Overview





Consequence Nō 3

State of Flux


Displacement Nō 4

Drawing still remains an integral part of my practice and, in particular the challenge of direct observational drawing. It forces you to take time out in this fast moving immediate world, to question what it is that you are seeing and, attempt to solve the problem in front of you.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Creation - Exasperation - Jubilation

The quest continues for the elusive image

It's official, my Pecha Kulcha rant is now live: Pipe, Slippers and TS Eliot

Naturally the process of breaking everything down into 20 images X 20 seconds was incredibly challenging, condensing what I wanted to show and wanted to say into what proved to be a very small segment of time was very enlightening; it forces you to adopt a discipline in approach, curtailing any chance of over waffling ( something I am prone to) because once the 20 slides have past by, it's over. One minute you are talking, the next minute, you're not!

I am still in pursuit of the elusive image. In the studio there are moments of genuine lucidity in the act of creation, the process of making imagery that comes out of a symbiotic triangular relationship between the material, image and myself. Knowing that it exists makes me want to find it again, there is a real moment of transcendence, clarity, where everything is 100% intuitive, an unknown force guiding the act of making work. Of course, the greatest test is maintaining this magic and invariably once you become aware of this mercurial essence of creation, it disappears! 

The process of reflection brings with it uncomfortable revelations; these revelations whilst making for uncomfortable reading are also informative and force me to confront my creative shortcomings. Inevitably this introspection brings about  internal dilemmas that need working through. Thoughts are governed by multiple spikes of consciousness, popping in and out. It is these multi-layered thoughts that create doubt. Why do I allow myself to be affected? Why do I take it all too seriously? I want to understand. The world is a fucking mess, governments and extremists alike indiscriminately killing scores of innocent people as they vie for power and control, not giving a shit about what stands in their way. People still continue to die from illnesses that rely on charity donations to find a cure. Try not to tell me that's not fucked up. Governments and Multi-Nationals need people to die, it's part of the quid pro quo of the capitalist system, after all, shareholders need their dividends. Perhaps it's because we are heading towards Old Year's Night, that the sense of "what is it seriously all about" is, heightened. 

Melancholia @54
Melancholia @54 about sums it up! Realisation that there is this veil that enwraps me and begins the process of suffocation, removing all ability to combat the curtain that descends. Aware, yet unable to avoid its calling. I wear it like a shroud, I can sense its putrid ambition to contain me.There are many times when I am unable to shake off this cloud that hovers over me.

A Sense of Loss

A Sense of Hope

There are a variety of underlying references in the images, not known at the outset but realised as the works reach their conclusion.
The three images all stated out like this laid  out together on the studio floor.

I was pleased to have taken part in the SSA exhibition this year at the RSA in Edinburgh 

and even more delighted when the exhibition was reviewed in The Scotsman where Duncan Macmillan said: " Niall Campbell also uses screen print, combining it with other media in From the Inside, a beautiful, abstract composition exploiting contrasts of warm and cold in black, grey, blue and white." It felt great to see that someone had connected with the work and chose to mention it in a national newspaper. Forgive my jubilation, it's always a boost and gives me ( rightly or wrongly) validation to keep ploughing my own furrow. I have spent so long questioning and being visually confused by things around me. Amazing how such a small thing can keep you going!

The Majorcan series, work inspired by multi tiered mashed memories has so far produced these responses:

Majorca Nō 3

Majorca Nō 4

Majorca Nō 5

Majorca Nō 6

Blood Eagle



The importance of play cannot be under-estimated. Allowing for things to go awry, to materialise and to lead you off on a different journey is so informative.
Picture making is the visual equivalent of elevator music; it is pleasant, it is irrelevant, it is about nothing, it is vacuous, it is without an opinion, it is devoid of a voice. Its aim is to be nice, to be decorative. It offers nothing.  Surely it is better to make imagery that attempts to voice an opinion and spectacularly fail than turn out trite shite, or, is it?  

             The only problem with the studio extension is, I want it to be bigger!