RA Magazine Summer 2013
Issue Number: 119
Jeffrey Camp RA turns 90
Like Hitchcock in his movies, Jeffery Camp RA often appears in his own paintings. William Feaver charts his career as he celebrates his 90th birthday with two shows
Characteristically and increasingly, as time flies, Jeffery Camp RA puts himself in his pictures in an on-looking role. His is the bearded head, usually capped and almost always expressing wonderment or bewilderment at the turns things take in his world of heights and depths – and the odd nuzzling bumble bee.
Jeffery Camp RA in his studio in south London, preparing for his exhibitions in London and Hastings this summer. © Pete Jones. Even when he is not there in person he can be sensed in every touch. The paintings are full of knowledge and cunning. They express enjoyment – the slinking fox, the boastful daffodil – and they work themselves up into splendid cascades in which it’s hard to distinguish ecstasy from diatribe.
Camp celebrates his 90th birthday year with two shows. At Art Space in London he exhibits new paintings plus a selection of works by six artists he has chosen to show with him, including Jock McFadyen RA and Neil Jeffries. Meanwhile, Jerwood Hastings presents work inspired by the Sussex landscape.
Camp’s locations have ranged from Venice (where he simultaneously salutes Turner and Tintoretto) to the indoor attractions of Pontins holiday camp in Great Yarmouth (knobbly knees contest anyone?) and the traffic-island prairies of Clapham Common. Not forgetting those places in art that he so resourcefully copied into his books, Draw and Paint: Seurat’s Gravelines, Piero’s baptismal pool, Cézanne’s mountain and Gillies’s Lothians. From Lowestoft to Stockwell, via Edinburgh and Beachy Head, he has absorbed a full 90 years worth of things worth celebrating, leaving a trail of inimitable legacy.
In his Almanac (2010), Camp pulled together all aspects, covering his entire career, marvellously so, making the reader the seer and letting us in on his outlook. There he stands, on chalk cliff top or on the Caithness paving stones of the Albert Embankment, taking on and taking in and making such a show of it.
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