Artist Interview: Emily Jane Campbell on her Debut Solo Show Fatherland

by Cass Art

From handmade paper and oil paint, to gold leaf and organic plant matter, Emily Jane Campbell presents a series of diverse, mixed media works in her debut solo show ‘Fatherland’.

The exhibition at the Geddes Gallery will see the culmination of almost two years work, further exploring her increasingly central themes of loss, memories, childhood and decay as she negotiates the loss of her father in 2015.

Based in London, Emily balances working at Cass Art Charing Cross with her studio work, bringing her expertise in painting and mark making to the shop floor.

Layering her materials, she fuses organic pigments with raw material, visualising both the nature and beauty of decay in her highly tactile paintings.    

In the countdown to her private view, we caught up with Emily about her first solo show and the challenges of being a practicing artist in London. 

Your father was obviously a very profound figure in your life. How did his passing in 2015 influence your work? 

My dad was my best friend, he was the person I was closest to in the world has affected me acutely. Seeing his degeneration through his long illness and finally his death has made me reflect almost obsessively on our mortality and the fleeting nature of time. All of this has poured out into my paintings.My work has become increasingly preoccupied with the dichotomy of life and decay as inseparable, as one and the same. For a lot of life the destruction of one thing is necessary for the growth and renewal of another. In this way both tragedy and beauty can be found in decay.

I am interested in the way that we dwell in our carefully constructed interior world; we cling to the past, our childhood, our innocence and the comfort of idyllic, dream-like memories as a denial of the inevitability of loss and degeneration. I paint the loss of a moment more beautiful than this one, never to be recaptured.

You have used oil paint for a number of years, what advice would you give to those looking to develop their materials?

I am a devoted fan of Michael Harding paint. There is nothing in the world quite like Michael Harding’s Rose Madder - I think of it more as an organic matter than a paint, it is so visceral. It’s important to choose the highest quality, especially when working with an array of mediums and materials as only then can your results live up to your vision and truly capture what you are trying to express. You get an outcome with artist quality oils that you simply can’t achieve with a lower quality product. I choose Michael Harding oils for their pigment content, depth of colour and smooth, unctuous handling 

Your work is highly textured; can you talk me through how you apply your materials?

Texture is a crucial element of my most recent work. I achieve this using the combination of Golden’s Acrylic Mediums and less orthodox material, dried and decaying plant matter. I layer the Mediums under the oil paint and build the surface from there. There is something so exciting about the Golden Mediums, they can capture the dryness in nature perfectly – and transparent oil colour with Michael Harding’s PM1 is just heavenly over Golden’s Glass Bead Gel.”

Was it important to you that the space reflected the themes of your work?

Definitely. There is something fascinating about a temporary space, one that’s always changing into something new. The idea that the aged brickwork holds layers of memories, with its peeling paint and abandoned furniture, really resonates with my themes. Geddes Gallery is unique and feels like something of a spiritual home for my work.

You were awarded the Cass Art Bursary Award earlier this year, how has this helped you realise the show?

I had been planning my show for some time when I was awarded the bursary and it has helped enormously with making the arrangements earlier than I had anticipated. By covering the costs of my space hire and framing it has allowed me bring the show forward and focus on making work. The timing has worked out perfectly as the Private View has ended up coinciding with my 30th birthday, and what better way to welcome in the next phase of my life than with my debut solo exhibition...

‘Fatherland’ will run from the 11th – 16th March 2016 at the Geddes Gallery, with free admission to the public from 11am – 6pm Saturday - Wednesday.

The Private View will be held from 6 – 10pm on Friday 11th March, and is open to everyone.

If you would like more information about the show, please visit:

You can also connect with Emily on social media via Instagram and Twitter.


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