Artist Liza Campbell’s thoughtful new series of prints Periodic Elements of Lockdown playfully explores her experiences of navigating the pandemic and lockdown.
There have been many creative responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Art has an important role in well-being and having a sense of who we are and helping us understand our situation. So much time spent alone during lockdown has encouraged artists to look at themselves and their work afresh.
Amongst the most subtle and thought-provoking is Liza Campbell’s latest work Periodic Elements of Lockdown: Ministry for Scientific Research. Building on her acclaimed series of Periodic Elements prints, conceptual printmaker, Campbell, has addressed the question of the Lockdown using her customary subversive wit and visual daring.
In Periodic Elements of Lockdown the familiar chemical elements have been replaced, the conventional letters now standing for new terms, a novel vocabulary made familiar by the exigencies of the Lockdown. Campbell compels us to think and think again. Her art is bold, perceptive, exuberantly colourful and, often very funny. With echoes of Damien Hirst’s pharmacy series of works, but with more warmth and humour, Campbell explores similar health themes, meditating on the vulnerability, precariousness and frequent absurdity of life.
In fact rather like Hamlet – To be or not to be that is the question? Few of us whether artists or working in hospitals, GP practices, or care homes, could have failed to have pondered this during the past extraordinary, challenging months.
Born in the Highlands of Scotland and raised at Cawdor Castle, Liza Campbell is a London-based artist, with a love of travel and adventure. She has lived in Mauritius, Kenya and in Indonesia. She is the last child of an Earl Cawdor to have been born at romantic Cawdor Castle, (50,000 acres pus castle), which has previously been erroneously associated with Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Moving to London aged 17, Campbell studied art at the Chelsea College of Arts, before relocating to a remote island off the coast of Kenya. It was here that she encountered soapstone engraving and began studying this traditional African craft in the context of her own work. Since then her artistic practice has also included engraving, embroidery and collage.
Liza Campbell’s last powerful exhibition at Rebecca Hossack gallery was inspired by the overwrought visual world of Victorian melodrama. She adopts, subverts it and makes it her own. She takes found vintage etchings and antique photographs and then re-works them using ink and acrylic in bright, psychedelic formations. Her re-working, which she defines as ‘tampering’ ‘meddling’ and ‘monkeying’ is also felt in the way that she re-titles each work: a sardonic caption written across the bottom of each engraving in the artist’s hand, the text humorously re-contextualizing the image. Campbell’s work allows her to digest social difficulties by laughing at them.
Liza Campbell is represented by Rebecca Hossack, an exciting, dynamic art dealer, with galleries in London and New York, who comes from an Australian medical family and specializes in established and upcoming artists. Originally trained as a lawyer, Hossack campaigns for the rights of indigenous Australians and has run Marathons for charity. She was one of the first art dealers to adventurously and successfully represent indigenous Australian artists in the UK, at her Fitzrovia gallery, in London, more than 25 years ago, where we first met.
Rebecca Hossack Gallery, 2a Conway Street, Fitzroy Square. London W1T 6BA