Umbilicus – Life From the Inside Out

Photograph of Bonnie Campbell by Fitch Cady

Umbilicus is a show of fine felted sculptures, paintings, and images, viewable at the Bowen Island Arts Council’s Gallery @ Artisan Square, from July 19 – August 13, 2017. Hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 10am-5pm.

Opening reception is Saturday, July 22, 5-7pm.

Artwork by Bonnie Campbell photographs by Robert Semeniuk

felted sculpturesfelted sculptures

felted sculptures

Bonnie Campbell Artist’s Statement

In 2011 our daughter Jasmine became pregnant with our granddaughter, Charlie. Suddenly the direction and inspiration for my art-making transformed.

I have worked with spinning, knitting, weaving and incorporating wool in masks and other artwork for more than forty years. I had recently just begun felting for the first time to make wool beads for jewelry, and had discovered making hard “rocks” out of felted wool that resembled granite. Inspired by the hens in our yard, I started transforming batts of white wool into large, dense eggs which I grouped in a big ceramic bowl and on pedestals.

Then, as a first-time expectant grandmother with a renewed interest in babies, I began to sculpt babies and fetuses by patiently felting, using thousands of felting-needle pricks and scissor-cuts to shape the detail of the figures.  

I decided early in this new phase to not create any deadlines for myself and just let these works develop as they wanted to. I came to think of this as slow art creation in which the pieces grow out of living with them while making them, and not ceasing until they seem right. This became a six-year-long project, involving wombs carved from felted sculpture, translucent placenta, figures inspired by classical putti, bones, sticks, feathers, paint, and bond sealants. Sculpture presentations include boxed plexiglass, metal pedestals, and infants and eggs mounted on wire stands. My paintings in general have acrylic backgrounds on paper, collaged with painted canvas figures.

My earlier work of sculpture, masks, paintings, textiles and jewelry have been presented at various venues. These include The Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver, Prime Canadian Crafts in Toronto, Helen Pitt Gallery in Vancouver, The Fitch Gallery in Vancouver (where I was a founder and partner in the early 1980s), The Sunshine Coast Arts Festival, The Madrona Exposition Centre in Nanaimo, The Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, The Cartwright Gallery in Vancouver, Fashion Week in Vancouver, motion picture wardrobe, and The Vancouver Art Gallery “Public Animal No.1” exhibition (which included work by Bill Reid, Mary Pratt, and Alex Colville). My work was also exhibited with other Canadian artists presented by the International Olympic Committee at The Vancouver Club during the Olympics in 2010.

My great thanks to Robert Semeniuk for his wonderful photographs, and shepherding the design and printing of this publication, to Marysia McGilvray for all of her substantial assistance during the last year, to Iishan Cruz for making the sculpture pedestals, and to my son Gardener Cady for his work on this edition of the book. Also thank you to Janet Esseiva and Emilie Kaplun, curators of the Bowen Island Arts Council, and to the Gallery @ Artisan Square for hosting the first exhibition of this new collection of my work.

Bonnie Campbell – July 2017