The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Chief Curator, Mr Charles Campbell.
Charles Campbell is a Jamaican-born multidisciplinary artist, writer and curator, who has been based in Canada, England and Jamaica. He holds an MA in fine art from Goldsmiths College University of London and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal. Campbell is a passionate and outspoken advocate of Jamaican and Caribbean contemporary art and has experience mounting exhibitions and running arts education programs for non‐profits in Canada and England. He has also been attached to the visual arts programme of the MultiCare Foundation, a local non-profit for inner-city development.
Campbell has worked as an arts writer and editor for the Gleaner and Jamaica Herald and is a regular contributor to ARC Magazine, a Caribbean arts journal. His most recent publication is a review of the 2012 National Biennial, which appeared in Jamaica Journal 34/3. As an artist he has represented Jamaica and Canada in events such as Infinite Islands: Contemporary Caribbean Art, at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007; the 2009 Havana Biennial; and Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions, held at the Art Museum of the Americas in 2011.
A closer look at Charles Campbell’s Transporter 6:
Charles Campbell – Transporter 6 (2012), screen print on card and metal clips, diameter 101.6 cm
Transporter 6 is a part of an ongoing project that Charles Campbell started in 2011. According to Campbell’s website: ”The Transporter Project inhabits the interstices of a number of artistic, and political concerns. Begun initially as a visual investigation of the phenomenon of forced migration, the work also combines the desire to find a more material form for the motifs inhabiting my paintings with an emerging interest in the play between various aspirational futures and the present.”
Like much of the Transporter series, this work utilises Richard Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome concept. Fuller (1895– 1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, designer and futurist. Though he is not the inventor of the geodesic dome, he is credited with popularising the structure. Fuller envisioned the dome as a part of a rational utopian future built on his environmental sustainability concerns and exploration of nature’s constructing principles to find design solutions that facilitated doing more with less.
Detail of Transporter 6
Hand-printed on the pieces that come together to create the Transporter 6 dome is an image of lung bronchioles. The colour of the prints makes a link between the human body and nature. On first glance, this human form appears to be some kind of vine. The significance of lungs, and especially bronchioles, for this work can be read in many ways. One possibility is to consider bronchioles as sites of transmutation within the human body. There, inhaled gases (oxygen etc) are absorbed into the blood stream and made a part of the body. When combined with the aspirational futures indexed by the geodesic dome and Campbell’s longstanding fascination with the Caribbean’s violent colonial history it is possible to view the work as a delicate but ultimately hopeful statement, expressing the desire for the transformation of fraught pasts into politically viable, brighter futures.
The following remarks were delivered by Charles Campbell at the opening function of the 2012 National Biennial. Charles was invited to speak to provide a perspective from a participating artist.
Ebony G. Patterson – Bush Cockerell “live sculpture” performance, pre-twentieth century galleries, NGJ, at the 2012 National Biennial opening – photo courtesy of Deborah M. Carroll Anzinger
“Welcome artists and art lovers. Welcome also to those dragged along reluctantly by their spouses. Welcome to residents of downtown and uptown Kingston and to those who’ve travelled from farther a-field. Welcome to the parents who’ve found yourselves in the unenviable position of having raised an aspiring artist. Especially welcome to those who can’t wait for the speeches to be over so they can look at some art. I promise to keep my comments brief.
At the exhibition opening – photo courtesy of Deborah M. Carroll Anzinger
Most of you are here as viewers and patrons of art. It’s my hope to give you a glimpse of what this exhibition might mean to the artists involved. I was first included in the National exhibition (then an annual event) in 1994 a year after graduating art school and shortly after my return to Jamaica. To this day it remains one of the major landmarks of my career. As a young artist there is no shortage of voices advising you of the folly of your chosen path but precious few encouraging you to go on. Getting that first acceptance letter from the National Gallery was undoubtedly one of the strongest and clearest of those encouraging voices.
Michael Elliott – Yellow Cake: Crossfire, acrylic on canvas, 60.9 x 78.7 cm
Of course it was no guarantee that I wouldn’t die starving in a garret with one ear only to have my work sell for millions after my death, Thank you mum, but being accepted by my peers as a peer bolstered my confidence and made a future as an artist seem possible.