Charles Campbell, Artist – Victoria

Photo by Lia Crowe

Charles Campbell is a Jamaican-born multidisciplinary artist, writer, and curator whose practice animates the future imaginaries possible in the wake of slavery and colonization. His artworks, which include sculptures, paintings, sonic installations, and performances, have been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Vancouver Special: Disorientations and Echo at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Fragments of Epic Memory at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and The Other Side of Now at the Perez Art Museum Miami. Campbell is the recipient of the 2022 VIVA Award and the 2020 City of Victoria Creative Builder Award. He holds an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmith College and a BFA from Concordia University, and currently lives and works on lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Victoria, BC. His exhibition An Ocean to Livity is on view at the Surrey Art Gallery until June 4.

  1. Lichen

Lichen are among the first organisms to appear after an environmental calamity and are key indicators of ecological health. As multi-species communities, the myriad of forms they take change with the environment and the specific makeup of that community. Forest coral. Beautiful.

  1. Colour

Photo by Pradeep Singh

I credit a recent trip to Jamaica with the rediscovery of colour in my work. We flew through Toronto and on the way out I recall the joy of seeing so many more Black faces in the airport as compared with Victoria. On our return, however, everyone just looked grey. I’m now reconning with how much we lose to conformity in Canada, and colour is bursting forth in my work again.

  1. Cold water

What began as an occasional brief dip in the summer is now a near daily year-round ritual, and one of my most important medicines.

  1. Ancestors

These entities used to reside as metaphorical connections to the past, a way to evoke survival and continuity, and explore complicity. More recently, however, they’re pushing back on the idea that they exist only as metaphor, and are demanding to be acknowledged and have a say in what happens. I’m just beginning to discover what this more reciprocal relationship may bring.

  1. Black multiplicity

Photo by Scott Little

For the last few years I’ve been initiating Black-only gatherings and enjoying the richness of the conversations that emerge when we don’t craft our words for white ears. The complexity and multiplicity present in the room gets a much fuller hearing when we can drop the defensive postures that we unconsciously hold. There is a whole lot more laughter too.