Iain Campbell was one of my instructors when I attended Centralian College in Alice Springs, Australia in the early 2000’s. He taught me art history, theory, and painting. On Saturdays, when I visited the “art shed” for life drawing, he was sometimes there.
He was from Scotland, but he settled in Alice Springs, and I never asked why. The town was rife with artists, and usually they would say they were drawn to the place, to the landscape, to the people. That seems likely to have been the case. His work often centered on the immediate world around us, and portraits of those who inhabited it.
Iain’s wife, Mandy, is a photographer. She ran a local shop that sold art and handcrafts. She taught me and my friend Genevieve how to make paper–from other paper, from plants, cotton fluff and dryer lint.
Each year that I have been gone from the Alice, I’ve received a Christmas letter from Mandy and Iain–beautiful, usually a couple of pages–color copied with photographs from around the area, sometimes with a little photo mounted on some homemade paper. Always a joy to get in my mailbox.
This year no letter came, and today I learned that Iain has passed away. I have felt sad for his passing, nostalgic for my once-home, and selfishly, miffed at myself for letting much of my recent life go by without really noticing it–without making note of the moments that comprise it, that surprise me. I haven’t been taking time to really look closely, the way you do when you are making art. I have resolved, in Iain’s honor, to be a little more observant, and to record more observations, before they slip away.