James Campbell 1942 to 2019
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of James Campbell.
For me James was a painterly potter blessed in many ways, not only as an artist, but also as a poet and a musician. But perhaps the most impressive thing about James was his openness, his love of life, his enthusiasm and respect for other artists, the sense of mischief in his eyes and his friendship.
This year James curated an exhibition at the gallery, ‘The Melodic Line’, inviting painters and printmakers, some that he had known for many years and others young artists that he had recently met. It was a delightful and well received exhibition with James’s old friends and fellow artists coming to the opening and staying over in Ludlow for a very sociable evening.
On Instagram, a platform that he had adopted with great enthusiasm, he messaged me on a regular basis: “I think some of these are rather good”, “Have you seen this?”, “If you are ever looking for a tree specialist…” and “…see you on the 4th”. That was the day that he and Annie were due to visit the gallery, unfortunately it was not to be.
James will be greatly missed at the gallery and by the contemporary art and craft community.
Mary Elliott. 13th December 2019
“In the special and magical places of my childhood in Wales and Scotland, I was always drawing. When I was very small, the images were of aeroplanes; it was 1944 and there was an aerodrome near our house.
The landscape began to appear when I was in my teens and away at school in unhappy exile from these sacred havens, which always offered a place to travel inner worlds of dream, joy and peace. The pain of separation and the longing to reconnect have been dominant forces in most of my subsequent work.
Over the years spent as potter, teacher and draughtsman, I came to love drawing, variously, as a tool for generating ideas about shape, for speculating about form and image, and as a language for putting down images of landscape observed, remembered, and imagined.
The pastels and watercolours have developed over time, from sketchbooks full of attempts to capture the poetry of these special places: they are meditations on landscape. Some are closer to the external facts, some closer to the inner world. The bird is a frequent presence; it often seems to be searching for something within the landscape, and it is probably me.
I’ve been making pots since about 1957; they were initially sculptural, slab built forms, but in 1983 the need to furnish myself with plates, bowls and jugs, along with a six week visit to Japan, prompted a renewed interest in the vessel, and since then most of my work has consisted of platters, dishes, jugs, jars and related shapes.
I try to make pots where form and image coexist as equal partners. They are in different languages, and to bring them together into balance is an endlessly fascinating puzzle.”
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