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Friday, August 17, 2007

Another sad time out. Fairwell Steven Campbell


My cousin Allen and I went to an exhibition of Steven's work at the Old Quad in Edinburgh many years ago. There was a small painting there of a bat-like creature, painted on a piece of brown corrugated cardboard that had been roughly torn into a rectangular shape (I've since seen a larger painting, so it could have been a small rough or study). It was a painting for an album and I'm sure it was a U2 album cover, but it seems too gothic for them so perhaps my memory is playing tricks. At any rate, it made an impression on me and it was very affordable so my cousin and I discussed buying it, by the time we enquired about it though, a red dot had appeared on the thing.

I must confess, I liked Steven Campbell's work the moment I saw it because it seemed like cartoon art to me. It seemed, in fact, like a whole comic crammed into one huge page, full of religiosity and sacred symbols and lust and intrigue; the embodiment of the sacred and the profane; all that art is supposed to be. It was a great exhibition and I came away an even bigger fan than I was when I entered the exhibition space.

Years later, I was standing in Stirling train station one day, looking across the platforms, when an orange-haired man, with a goatee beard, in a very dapper green-checked suit, Edwardian looking, caught my eye. He looked like some kind of Autumnal Sprite, all green and brown and orange, made all the more unreal by the grey backdrop. I knew it was Steven Campbell and that appealed to the snob in me. By the time I got over to where he had been he was gone.

Now he has gone for good. At the ridiculously young age of 53, Steven Campbell died of peritonitis, or at least of Septicemea as a result of that condition. He died, in hospital, of the very illness my eldest daughter recovered from last year, a ruptured appendix (there's a post on this very blog). It seems such a ridiculous thing, and such a stupid pointless waste. Somethings are bewildering.

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