People should be given the opportunity to be educated in sculpture just as much as painting by being exposed to it. Campbell Robertson–Swann
Campbell Robertson-Swann is a sculptor, curator and the director of Defiance Gallery Sydney. He is also the younger brother of fellow Australian sculptor Ron Robertson-Swann (b. 1941). He spent his early years looking through his brother’s art books, visiting the art galleries of Sydney and spending time amongst artists. Learning through looking and experience was Campbell’s way of investigating and engaging with the art world.
He spent his early adult life working as a stockman in the outback while also making bush furniture and sculpture from found objects. His sculptural practices lead Campbell to open his first gallery ‘Outside In’ in Paddington, Sydney (1982). The gallery specialised in bush furniture and Australian crafts.
In 1995 Campbell opened his second gallery Defiance Gallery, this time in Newtown, Sydney. At the time there was a raft of very talented Australia sculptors who were without commercial representation, and as a result facing limited exhibition opportunities and only gaining access to a minimal pool of potential buyers. Defiance gallery set out to remedy each of these issues and continues to directly challenge the perception that sculpture is difficult to sell.
Aside from running Defiance Gallery, Robertson-Swann maintains his own sculpture practice, exhibiting frequently in indoor and outdoor exhibitions such as Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, which he won in 1998 and a finalist in the McClelland Survey and Award, Melbourne in 2003. He has also been lecturing part-time in sculpture at the National Art School (NAS) in Sydney since 1999.
Since the 1990’s Campbell’s sculptures have moved into works that explore material, surface and monumentality. His metal works are often painted or finished in polished stainless steel and take cues from architectural structures and concepts. The body of work he has created over the last few years features forms that have been distilled down via self-imposed rigorous editing processes which conclude with forms that speak to minimalism.
Campbell Robertson-Swann’s sculptures can be found in many galleries and private collections within Australia.
Of the 4 works by Campbell Robertson-Swann in HEAVY METAL: Sculpture from the Permanent Collection, which work do you feel is the most successful? Discuss your reasons.
Research the history of monumentality in sculpture.
Robertson-Swann used AV8 penetrol finish on Twin Series II and Twin Series IV (displayed above and in this exhibition), research the properties of the product.
Twin Series II and Twin Series IV (displayed above and in this exhibition) are part of the same series, discuss the specific ideas and aesthetics shared by the pieces.
Ron and Campbell Robertson-Swann are both sculptors but they came to the profession from two different paths; Ron trained in sculpture in the UK under the likes of Anthony Caro and Campbell didn’t attend any formal training. Compare their approaches, styles and choice of material in connection with their influences.
IMAGES: Portrait: Campbell Robertson-Swann 2013. Photo: Lauren Harvey. Campbell Robertson-Swann Verso 1998. mild steel. 65 x 58 x 14 cm. Gift of Yvon Gatineau under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Photo: Clare Lewis. Campbell Robertson-Swann Twin Series II 1998. mild steel, gun blue and AV8 penetrol finish. 20 x 16 x 12 cm. Gift of Yvon Gatineau under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Photo: Clare Lewis. Campbell Robertson-Swann Twin Series IV 1998. mild steel and AV8 penetrol finish. 14 x 17 x 13 cm. Gift of Yvon Gatineau under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Photo: Clare Lewis. Campbell Robertson-Swann Untitled for Billy Rose 1998. mild steel. 31 x 36 x 12 cm. Gift of Deodent P/L under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Photo: Clare Lewis