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Keith Campbell

Premier's arts award nomination latest honour for Keith Campbell

August 18, 2014

More than 44 years after graduation, Keith Campbell continues to make waves with his historically-themed art. The North Bay, Ontario ceramic artist is one of six finalists for the 2014 Premier's Award of Excellence in the Arts. The winner will be announced on September 16 at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. He was also a finalist for the prestigious Ontario award in 2010. Later in September, Campbell will be presented with a Life Time Achievement Award in the Arts from the Coordinating Body Arts Culture Heritage in North Bay. This latest accolade will bring the total number of awards and honours the 1970 Ceramics grad has received to 56.

Campbell’s social and political art is also the subject of a book released on August 8 by London, Ontario-based gallery owner/author Jonathon Bancroft Snell. One of Campbell’s recent works called TOAST was included Bancroft-Snell’s 2013 book "Art in Canada". The installation features 40 pieces of porcelain toast with the image of historical Canadians placed to spell out the word toast. “I am toasting each person,” he explains.

With his irreverent TOAST installation, Campbell has expanded on his sculptural clay works, many of which incorporate stories of famous Canadians, along with political commentary. “The vessels I created were decorative but I wanted to say something. I have always been interested in Canadian history but not the boring stuff taught to me in high school. My art engages the viewer to figure out what I am trying to tell them. The works have layers of meanings,” adds Campbell, whose art is included in the permanent collections of the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Museum of Civilization.

In 2009, Campbell retired as a professor and Director of Arts at Canadore College after 32 years to fulfill his dream of being a full time artist and educator. “I am going stronger than ever!” he says. “My plan is like most artists - to keep creating until the day I become toast.” Among his latest projects: establishing a Potters Guild in North Bay which should open its doors in September.

Reflecting on his accomplishments, Campbell points to his Sheridan education as a guiding force. “I have been very lucky with my career right from the beginning. The faculty at Sheridan gave me the impetus to follow their example because they were all working professional artists as well as great teachers.”

Keith Campbell art