Performance artist, was born and raised in Queensland then lived in Sydney until she married the sculptor and installation artist Neil Roberts in the late 1990s and moved to Queanbeyan. (He died early 2002). Her Cloche (1999) – seen only as a video, the medium by which her performances are recorded – shows her chopping off her hair in order to remove a flapper-style close-fitting cap glued to her head (see JK 'Wombat Manifesto’ lecture, published in Republics of Ideas ed. Brad Buckley and John Conomos).

In 199(7?) Campbell did a memorable performance at Old Parliamen House, Canberra that used research carried out for her Sydney College of the Arts MA on images of Truganini (kissing a plate while smothered in thick red lipstick to bring up the signature of the white maker of a Truganini image to the sounds and sights of a session of Federal Parliament on TV in the background.)

In November 1999 Campbell did Inflorescent as the final performance for her residency program at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Performance Studies – a 'part-cycad, part-homosapien specimen’ visible for an hour. Her body was inscribed with cycad-frond patterns and other decorative motifs using special ink that showed up only under ultra-violet light concealed within a woven palm-leaf fan she swept across her body. Initially a counter-point to the Macleay Museum exhibition Adorned , she repeated it in the small room at Canberra Contemporary Artspace’s Gorman House on 14-15 April 2000. Viewed only through the external window of the Gorman House small cube room (shades of Duchamp’s Etant DonnĂ©s at Philadelphia), she lay naked in the dark on a chaise longue (shades of Manet and Titian) slowly fanning herself to reveal the tattoo-like inscriptions on her body.

She organised two performances as part of 'LIKENESS: Portraiture and Biography symposium’ at 5.30 pm. on Saturday, 5 May 2001 at Sydney University’s College of the Arts, Balmain Rd, Rozelle: 'SECATEUR, A life of pruning; pruning a life. Vera Violet Isabel Campbell performs the art of flower arranging’ and at 6.00pm 'REMANENCE: Hugh McKenzie Campbell demonstrates the act of water-dowsing’ (the latter performance was cancelled because of rain). Both drew from video recordings of the artist’s paternal grandparents gathered over a six-year period to April 2001 (between Hugh’s 101st birthday and Vera’s 99th). REMANENCE was developed and premiered at the Department of Performance Studies, Sydney University in May 2000. SECATEUR was developed at Sydney College of the Arts in April 2001. The LIKENESS symposium was jointly presented by the National Portrait Gallery, SU’s Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and SU College of the Arts.

In 2001 Campbell’s clever and caustic art-historical performance about international modern art and its teaching in Australia, specifically Sydney University, titled The Machine, Oiled Again , was held under the stair bridge to the Power Department of Fine Arts (see JK article 2002). The five performances connected with SU (including Sydney College of the Arts) were to be recreated in a retrospective in May 2002 with a catalogue/book funded with SU sesqui-centenary funds, but the event was postponed until the end of the year after Neil’s death.

Staff Writer
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