Emily Jane Campbell
My work is unconditionally figurative. It is typified by the themes of personal loss and mourning, the inevitable decomposition in nature and life, and the memories which are ultimately all that endure. It 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.
Colour and texture are central to my work as themes in themselves. Bright, sometimes stereotypically cheerful, perhaps even sugary, colours are predominant in most of my paintings. Whereas this kind of palette can often be seen as trivial, as mutually exclusive from solemnity, a philosophy often embodied by the reputation of the sombre British outlook, my choice of colour is in fact a very deliberate way of expressing the seriousness and, moreover, the tragedy of life. My choice of pastel colour, neon, iridescence, glitter, gold leaf and romantic, supposedly feminine, summery pinks and yellows belies a deep sadness as I invite the viewer to consider that we always look backwards, at our childhood through rose tinted glasses. We never quite accept that it’s over, lost forever to time, and we are alone now, not safe, not at home.
I recreate the texture of decay: the texture of the paint peeling from the walls of your childhood home which was once indestructible; the texture of the bumps and blisters caused by the termites who are eating their way through your castle ramparts; the texture of the glittering walls of your home as you remember it and desperately try to reconstruct it, but not quickly enough, the termites work faster than you can; the gleaming, encrusted texture of the crystal cathedral you used to live in, that you see rising from the mist but moving further away when you look over your shoulder; the texture of the decay that has taken root in your organs as the disease eats its way through you, there is nothing you can do, you cannot save your home, even your body isn’t immune.