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Interview: The quiet strength of Catherine Campbell


You were in LA for a show at Thinkspace, tell us a little about the show and the pieces you had for it.

Yes, I have just been in LA having lots of fun. The show at Thinkspace was called ‘The Drawing Room’, it was a group exhibition curated by Audrey Kawasaki and included many of my favourite artists. I had two pieces, two tattooed water nymphs looking quite mischievous. The opening night was one of the best I’ve ever been to, there were so many people and so much great art!

What is the inspiration behind your work?

Most of my images centre on female characters that represent the idea of an archetypal feminine. Recently I have begun focusing more intently on two distinct themes surrounding these characters, that of the sea and the home. To me, these two themes represent varying degrees of stability and instability and I love all the visual imagery that goes with them.


You have lots of tattooed women as subjects. Do you have lots of tattoos yourself?

I have one tattoo, just a tiny symbol that I got when I was 17. The tattoos in my images are more about creating a maritime feel than anything else. I recently got a Sailor Jerry tattoo book and became smitten with them.

What were your thoughts of LA?? Was that your first time?? What did you do, what were some of your favorite things? The weather is pretty consistent there, not like all season in one day Melbourne, eh?

I love LA! It was actually my fourth visit but I definitely had the most fun this time. We cruised around looking at some great art, shopping, eating chili cheese fries and peanut butter shakes at 2 in the morning… yum. The constant sunshine is definitely a plus.


Fries and shakes at 2am, you’ll have to tell me where! I met with Eveline before you came out to LA, another artist also in the Poketo-Aussie series… she was sort of stranded day to day without a car. But, I think she mentioned that when you arrived in LA, all was going to change–car rental, luxury hotel, and fun, fun… was it true??

Yep, Ev got the car and came and picked me up from the airport and we went and checked into The Standard in Hollywood. I only had four days so we crammed in lots of fun stuff and ate lots of good food.

We cruised all over Melbourne and went to some great places. Some of my favorites are the shopping arcades in the city center. What do you do on your free time when you are not drawing and painting? What do you like to do on your free time? Is making art pretty much your full time job?

After returning from five weeks traveling I’m slowly starting to realize how much I love Melbourne. It’s quiet and slow sometimes but I like it. When I’m free this summer I plan to spend time in the sunshine, go swimming at the local pool (when I can’t persuade my housemate to drive me to the beach), ride my bike in the twilight when the air smells sweet, eat watermelon, grow strawberries, drink lots of beer and have friends over to lie on blankets with me in the backyard on warm balmy nights. Summer in Melbourne is the best.


Sounds like a dream… like your art. Tell us a little about the Poketo wallet you did for us. What was the inspiration behind that piece?

The piece I did for the Poketo wallet is one of my favourite drawings. It is one of a series of two images called Sometimes of the Land and Sometimes of the Sea. Again it relates to the idea on stability and instability that I am interested in. This girl represents earthy things and she is the stable one, I think she has quite a strength about her.


You did a wonderful commission for Frankie magazine. The wrapping paper is lovely. How did that come about? Any new collaborations or projects you can talk about in the near future??

Thank you! I have a great respect for Frankie magazine, I think it is an excellent publication that supports many levels of creativity within Australia. The girls who run it are lovely, talented people and it really comes through in the magazine. As for projects, I have a few bits and pieces on the go, but I came back from overseas determined to make 2009 the year to do lots of drawing! I’m full of inspiration and ideas so I’m looking forward to see what happens.

Check out Catherine’s Poketo wallet here.
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