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Jeffery Camp. Photo: Suffolk Artists.

Jeffery Camp (1923–2020)

English painter and draftsman Jeffery Camp, whose multiperspectival pastoral landscapes were inspired by London’s parks and England’s South Coast beaches, has died at age ninety-six. Camp’s canvases were described by Barry Schwabsky in the December 2001 issue of Artforum as “informed by an irreverent eye for the distinctions between penetrating observation and glamorizing cliché. . . . An Elysium of idiosyncratic painterliness in which the fluidity and dash of a paintbrush’s mercurial movements convey, above all, vision’s avid excursions through a world whose every surface is so seductive the eye cannot remain fixed on any one in particular.”

Camp was born in Suffolk in 1923 and studied first at Lowestoft and Ipswich School of Art and later at the Edinburgh College of Art, under William George Gillies, from 1941 to 1944. He returned to Suffolk to paint the East Anglian coastline, and after being awarded several traveling art scholarships, held his first solo exhibitions at London’s Beaux Arts Gallery in 1959. Subsequent shows were held at New Art Centre, the South London Gallery, and the Serpentine Galleries, among other institutions. In addition to teaching at the Chelsea School of Art from 1960 to 1961, Camp was a longtime educator at the Slade School of Art, from 1963 to 1988.

“Drawing can open the door and raise that useful extra eyelid which, like that possessed by certain lizards, is in humans the inhibiting, cribbed, confining, narrow-browed, vertical thinking curtain eyelid of conformity,” Camp wrote in his 1981 book Draw: How to Master the Art. “The only [chapter] I jibbed at was on perspective, because I had to say why it was bad,” he remarked in a 2010 interview. “It goes against the natural touch of the eye. You know as well as I that railway tracks don’t go to a point.” 

In the book’s foreword, David Hockney wrote: “In learning to draw (unlike learning to write) you learn to look. It’s not the beauty of the marks we like in writing, it’s the beauty of the ideas. But in drawing it’s a bit of both—it’s beauty of ideas, of feelings and of marks—and I think Jeffery Camp shows this marvelously well.”

Camp was elected a member of the London Group in 1961; a Phillips Prize awardee in 1965; and a Royal Academician in the Royal Academy of Arts in 1984. His work is in the collections of the British Council, the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society, the Norwich Castle Museum, the University of Nottingham, and the Tate Gallery.

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