As working from home continues to be the new norm, more of our team share the artworks that make their homes a happier place.
Tammi Campbell, Homage to the Square with Bubblewrap and Packing Tape #2, 2019, Acrylic on Board with Metal Frame. Photo: Author’s own.
Tammi Campbell’s Homage to the Square with Bubblewrap and Packing Tape #2 makes me happy every time I see it. I first discovered Campbell’s work at NADA Miami in 2018 and as I often do, I followed her career for a bit, learning more about her and her practice. Coincidentally, one of my favourite galleries, Anat Egbi in Los Angeles, was also drawn to her work and planning an exhibition. Ultimately, I acquired a piece from Anat at Frieze New York in 2019 and it now hangs in a prominent location at my family home in Southampton, NY.
Campbell’s paintings are seen in transition phases, when a piece is in transit – packed in bubble wrap, tape, and cardboard. Upon further inspection, the protective layers are revealed to be made entirely of paint themselves, moulded from the same acrylic materials applied to the canvas. The trompe l’oeil effect attracts all visitors to stop and look at the work which as an art lover is a dream come true.
Underlying her work is a dialogue with the history of modernism and its male dominance, coupled with an attraction to a systematic painting process and the artist’s knowledge of Clement Greenberg but that is for another time when I have more space!
Henry Cliffe, 7.7.77, 1977 Oil on canvas. Photo: Author’s own.
I began my career in the picture department at Phillips auctioneers. Shortly after I joined, in 1996, the Modern British department had a sale of works from the studio of Henry Cliffe. Although not one of the heavyweight British artists commanding huge prices in the market today, the studio sale did present an opportunity to acquire works by a man who was very much part of the art scene in post-war Britain.
In 1946 Cliffe met William Scott and the two men formed a close artistic and personal friendship which was to endure until Cliffe’s death in 1983. Through Scott, Cliffe enrolled at Bath Academy of Art (which had recently moved to Corsham Court), where he ended up teaching alongside fellow artists such as Terry Frost, Kenneth Armitage, Adrian Heath, Howard Hodgkin and Peter Lanyon.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Cliffe was as well known as his Corsham colleagues and his work featured widely in group exhibitions. In 1954 he was chosen for the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale along with Ben Nicholson, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. He represented Britain again in Venice in 1960, this time alongside Victor Pasmore and Edouardo Paolozzi, amongst others.
I’ve chosen this work to highlight the complexities of the contemporary art market and the difficulties of being a professional artist. At the height of his powers, Cliffe was clearly a talented and respected painter, but his lack of long term recognition and success almost certainly stems from his own attitude towards the art world. He deplored those whose interests in art were centred around its social aspects, and it is probably fair to say that his diplomatic and commercial skills in this regard certainly hampered his success. Despite a significant body of work which journeyed from the figurative, through abstract, and finally back to figurative, he remains eclipsed by his more famous friends and colleagues.
Although a late work from 1977, I was attracted to this painting because of its abstract nature and the obvious visual references to the work of his lifelong friend, William Scott. For many years I have tried to interpret the various shapes and colours in order to give them meaning, only to arrive at no particular conclusion. Make of it what you will!
Johannes Girardoni, Louise Lawler & Richard Prince
The central piece is a work by Johannes Girardoni from his ‘Light Reactive Organic Sculpture’ Series. On either side is a work by Louise Lawler and Richard Prince, and various pieces by our children.
The best kind of artwork, and indeed the best setting for art (domestically) is one where the objects speak to each other and create a deeper dialogue with the house and the people in it.
Also, I’m very much aware of how crooked my house is! If you look at the line of the crown moulding versus the top line of the Girardoni work versus the line of the floor, none of them match. To me that is the quintessence of London living.
I have always loved this work, but it wasn’t until we put it over the mantle in our first home that it became something more meaningful to me. More totemic and more organic. My husband and I always have ‘spirited discussions’ on which works to buy, he being a minimalist and I far more colour orientated, so our collection walks that fine line. For me, this work has shown me the power of a minimal piece well executed. The organic material with the reclaimed wood base, only emphasises the purity of the white wax field but the drip marks continue to bring the focus back to the process.
These works are created by taking beeswax and pigment and slowly building up the surface of the work. As the title indicates, they are meant to absorb the light in a way that brings out the pigment of the works. Very subtle in the case of this white work, but vivid with some of the other hues in the series.
Also, I’ve had the pleasure to meet Johannes and hear about his process – a true delight for any collector. As a restoration geek, I also greatly enjoyed hearing about how to restore the surface should a nick happen: a gentle hairdryer to settle the wax back into place, though thankfully I haven’t had to resort to this.
What I’ve also enjoyed as an American living in London in a series of old Victorian homes is the continuum of history unfolding around us, imbuing the room and the work. As collectors of Fine and Decorative Art, we can be custodians of incredible objects, allowing them to behave differently in each unique setting. When I look at this work, I think of the number of candles that have been burned in the room before us, and a very visceral sense of sharing the space with others. I am absolutely captivated by the docu-series ‘A House Through Time’ and ‘A Secret History of our Streets’ and how they chart how our tastes in art, architecture and decor change, and how the room will come in and out of fashion. How remarkably personal and intimate the hearth and décor of a room can be, a snapshot of this house in time.
Sophie von Hellermann, Candide, 2019, (Edition of 100 + 10AP), 76 x 56 cm, 4 Colour Silkscreen Print
I spotted this print on the Allied Editions booth at Frieze in 2019. Having never bought a piece of art before, Allied Editions was a great find, as the collective is made up of seven of London’s leading not-for-profit arts organisations and brings together various artist editions.
Sophie von Hellermann’s pieces are often fluid, with imagery from classical mythology and literature. In this print von Hellermann depicts Voltaire’s eponymous character from the fantastical and optimistic novella Candide. Prints are a brilliant way to get in to collecting and for me this piece was bright, fun and had a lovely sense of movement.
This is a limited edition print made for House of Voltaire, which commissions pieces to support arts and education charity Studio Voltaire’s exhibition, learning and studio programmes. House of Voltaire are introducing their first-ever permanent House of Voltaire in Clapham, hopefully this winter, so be sure to keep an eye out in absence of Frieze this year!