18 November, 2009

ALL THAT IS NOT US screens in Hackney

Remembrance Sunday, 2009.
First screening: ALL THAT IS NOT US. Shot on a cold green-grey day in January, cold sea lashing Brighton beach, storm clouds gathering, ALL THAT IS NOT US is a short film that documents a writer's relationship with her novel from love to destruction.

Brett Campbell took the train from London to Brighton with a bag containing all the drafts of Brett's novel, all the accompanying paperwork, a small camera, and an even smaller box of matches. They bought a litre of premium paraffin from a hardware shop on the Lanes and headed to the beach.

Brett wanted to burn the novel, and everything to do with it, as she had loved it but her heart was no longer in it. "Stuffing it away in some drawer would have suffocated it," said Brett. "It was important to set it free. Love is open-handed."

So at 11am on 10 January 2009, sitting on a bank of wet stones overlooking the turbulent sea, Brett unwrapped the ginger cake from its foil, and Campbell poured tea from the Thermos.

A storm was brewing, the sky was yellow, and it looked as if would rain any second. They had discussed the burning many times. It had to be special.

It wasn't just paper that was being burned, it was five and a half years' work: hundreds of hours spent writing out of blind faith, put before social life and relationships and money; phone calls, reading, conversations, a trip to Croatia, all in the name of research, printing in the early hours, waking at 4.30am to write before work, editing on the bus, on trains, in cafes, weekends crossed out in the diary, saying "novel"; life put on hold -- for what?

They had conceived the burning as performances involving metres of rope and local tramps, Baroque head dresses, candles and intricate mermaid-coming-out-of-the-sea dances. But in the end they had decided seaweed would be the only frills, if the sea deemed them worthy. It wasn't about pomp. It was a burning, and that was it. Just the two of them and the flames and the sea. And now it looked as if it may be rained off.

"I think we just do it," said Brett. "Out of the way of people, before it rains. We'll just burn it."

"Where are you going to take your clothes off?" asked Campbell.

"Dunno," said Brett. "By the water, probably." And she picked up the paraffin and the bag and walked off.

"See you there," Campbell shouted but her words were lost to the wind. Campbell felt uneasy. She packed up the Thermos, put the tin foil it in her pocket, felt something cold, pulled out the camera and looked up. Brett was tiny against the wild sea, and it was at that moment that Campbell decided to document the procedings.

What people said:

“I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the film and how thought-provoking it was. It made me think about impermanence, endings, dead ends but also about something deeper inside us, that goes beyond all that. I was so moved.”

“The sounds and images of the ocean and the fire and the burning of something very precious – powerful symbols. Although out of it came this beautiful art I can't help feeling a sense of loss for the work that you put your heart into, and an intense sense of wonder about why you burned it. I want to see it again, because there was so much to digest.”

15 October, 2009

06 August, 2009

Shadow Drawing Workshop

Brett Campbell brought a touch of the eighteenth century to a modern art gallery at the Louise Blouin Institute in West London last weekend in a children's workshop on shadow drawing.

"Magical," said one parent. "A real buzz."

Exploring the use of light, dark and reflection in the works exhibited in the current show 'Design High', curated by Natalie Kovacs, the children created a world of shadows using paper cut-outs, dextrous finger twisting and drawing.

"Very inspiring and empowering," said another parent. "I loved the fact the children created in a space where real art works were on display."

The workshop culminated in a race between the children and their shadows, based on Aesop's The Hare and the Tortoise, and a triumphant march around the gallery.

Future workshops at the Institute led by Brett Campbell will include making palm leaf books and pop-up collages.

For more information
or to take part, contact studio@brettcampbell.co.uk

18 June, 2009

Germinal in Germination

The cardboard box awaits its disguise prior to an overseas mission

No bridal dress was sewn with stitches as fine as these. Over the seas and through the skies on silken threads and linen wings...

Look! A package has come all the way from Mysore for Campbell. Who can it be from?

At last... bunting and rope tricks. Essential equipment for 'Germinal' ...

17 June, 2009

"The Hair Collection"

Norwegian artist
Kurt Johannessen
has published
the first
taken of hair
donated by
international artists
Brett Campbell.

22 May, 2009

Brett Campbell hairs to represent Britain

Hair Brett and Hair Campbell have posted two hairs from their very own barnets to Norway. The hairs will take part in Norwegian artist Kurt Johannessen's "The Hair Collection".

Johannessen is collecting single hairs to appear in exhibitions, performances and books.

"It is important that those who give do so in their own free will," says Johannessen. "I also want them to personally pull out the hair they wish to give me."

Sobriety essential
"We put our hairs through a rigorous selection process," says Campbell. "We insisted on sobriety, love of the cold and sociability. They will be joining hundreds of other hairs in Kurt's project and it's essential they give Britain a good name."

Brett and Campbell have a long standing relationship with hair. Each own over 900 that live at the respective north poles of the artists. [and some at the south too - campbell]

No drunks hairs here
"Our hairs are tough," says Brett. "They've withstood major changes in climate over the past year, not to mention attempted poisoning. We have every confidence they'll deliver the goods for Kurt's project but sobriety was essential.

"It's a long journey to Norway. [Over a week in a small brown envelope.] Drunken brawls in a confined space could have resulted in the hairs escaping en-route. Also, drunken hairs tend to tie others in knots. We hope our hairs will enhance rather than tangle Kurt's project."

Need more hair? See Angel Cuts by Brett Campbell
and "The Hair Collection" by Kurt Johannessen.

02 May, 2009

After Light Private View

Campbell launched her new book, AFTER LIGHT, a collaboration with the photographer Paula Naughton at the bookartbookshop, London.

Fashion photographer: Brett
Books: Model's own

03 April, 2009

A Thought for the G20 Leaders

Over to you, Wendell Berry...

A Vision

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

01 April, 2009

Saatchi Appearance

You can now see Brett Campbell's recent work (including Campbell Gets Busted previews, above) and read news of upcoming exhibitions at Saatchi Gallery Online

17 January, 2009

The sea people

At dawn the sun god whispered through the key holes of the sea people's huts. "Carpe Diem! Never has there been a day such as this! What are you living for?"

"Well, it's not as if I've got a choice, is it?" grumbled one of them.

"Oh, you're missing the point," said another giving the grumbly one some sea cake, which the sea people breakfasted on every morning.

And without further ado, clutching their sea cake and cups of tea, the sea people rose in robes the colours of their huts. Crunching over the stones. Muttering about how they were sure this felt familiar. Perhaps they had dreamt it the night before. They made their way down to the water.

"Don't be afraid," whispered the sun god, blazing a little brighter.
Shimmying a little higher in the sky. "Come on!"

So the sea people set off over the water. At first treading carefully, so as not to put their feet through the skin of the sea. Or get thrown off balance by the swell.

And before long they were heading straight towards the sun.

"Go West," instructed the sun god. "I'll collect you after I've done my round."

So the sea people stuck their noses in the air and headed West. Through geezars of silver flying fish, mountains of hump back whales, and poems of albatrosses carried on the breeze, they walked for years, until sunset.

Then the sun god cast a golden ladder over the ocean and the sea people climbed up it, and onto the back of their beloved. And then night fell and they were never seen again. At least, not as sea people.

Still Life with Wool Glove

01 January, 2009

365 - The last exhibition of 2008

I decided we were going to have an exhibition of important things. — Campbell

365 - The exhibits