Love Love Love

Love, an exhibition featuring work by artist Steven Campbell, contains multiple collages from the 80s and 90s and was displayed in Tramway.

Glasgow-born in 1953, Steven Campbell’s collages are full of hidden faces and animals and are created by using many different materials such as paper, string and feathers.

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Image Credit: The Steven Campbell Trust

The first collage was titled Portrait of Two Cousins with the Same Name 1991.

When looking at this piece, the first thoughts and feelings that came to mind was how creepy the characters in this painting were. The two cousins  mirroring each others posture exactly, with their eyes made to look directly at you, made this painting, and the cousins, quite sinister looking; they almost looked like characters from a horror movie.

Whilst some parts of this collage were busy and the frame was set to burst, other areas were more minimalist. For example, the bird-like creatures against their dark green background at the top of this collage added some simplicity to this work, and a well needed break from the odd looking cousins.

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The next collage on display was a 1991 piece called Dream of the Hunters Muse and, keeping in theme with the previous piece by Campbell, this also had a sinister undertone.

This work depicted a hunter who is seen holding a gun and surrounded by dead animals who are wide-eyed, dead and seen by pools of blood. However, what makes this work a little out-of-the-ordinary is that there is a dead, unclothed woman there also.

Now whilst there could be many, and maybe even more obvious theories, about this work, what it could be symbolising is that people who will hurt and kill an animal have the potential to hurt a human too.

Concept aside, this collage was amazing for a few reasons. The first obviously being the unexpectedness of the dead woman and the second being how Campbell disguised animals into the blue sky used as his background.

However, what was even better was how different coloured pieces of paper were used to act as shading, shadows and light on the woman’s body. This gave a real insight into Campbell’s expertise when it comes to colour and light.

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Image Credit: Clare Henry – Art Journal

Penelope at home waiting for Dad’s Return 1991 was the next piece of work by Steven Campbell on display. This artwork, like all of them, featured the use of string which is lined in rows to create parts of the collage. Looking at each piece of string aligned in such a precise manner really shows how meticulous Campbell was with his art.

This piece featured complex patterns and rich colours of red which made this work particularly inviting to look at. That being said, the most commendable part of this work was how Campbell created the reflection of the falling woman. Whilst these paintings are not what you would call realistic looking, it is great how accurate they are in regards to shape, proportion and form.

The use of colour throughout Campbell’s work is especially impressive; if you were thinking of how to create a shadow on someones skin you may not necessarily think that a greenish-grey colour would be appropriate or that black and red would be good to show the reflection of someones hair. But this is not the case for Campbell, as he was seemingly able to look at the bigger picture and was able to understand how unconventional uses of colour would successfully work in his art.

Important note that this entire piece was made using coloured, or painted, pieces of string which you will be able to see in some detail below!

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Last up was another 1991 collage named Birth of Eurithia with Drowned Family which shows a baby looking up at, who we can assume was, her parents. It was safe to say that this artwork felt quite tragic as the parent’s top-halves were consumed by swirls of blue which are meant to symbolise water.

The way the baby is seen looking up at her passed parents and in their home show the life that the baby could have had with her mother and father.

The mother and father seem to be sitting on the same seat which could be an indication that they were very close to one-another and shared a special relationship that would have been made even more strong by the birth of their baby, but now they are not able to experience this.

Of course, this isn’t a set-in-stone concept, but its one that could work for this piece of work.

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Image Credit: Marlborough

All in all the collages in this exhibition were full of wonderful, and hidden, details which made every piece mysterious and interesting to witness. The use of colours and Campbell’s ability to create light and shadows with colours that you wouldn’t expect was fun to see and showed his talent off brilliantly. What may have been the best, though, was how every piece appeared to come with a backstory. Each collage was thought-provoking and the more you looked at each one, the more you were able to uncover.

You can read more about Steven Campbell here

and take a look at other Tramway exhibitions that I have written about here

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