The Reconciliation Church houses the Aboriginal Stations of the Cross and Madonna by Aboriginal artist Richard Campbell.
Richard Campbell is an accomplished Artist, who has been painting for approximately 30 years. He is self taught and is recognised as one of many Aboriginal artists who works with both contemporary and traditional mediums and symbols. He also is developing his skill and techniques in the area of abstract art.
Richard was part of the stolen generations. He does not like to be seen as victim, but a person who would like to learn from the past and work for the future. As a result of Richard’s difficult early life, he was educated only to the first year of high school. Richard’s first job was working for Fletcher Jones in the laundry, and he has had many other labouring jobs over the years. In 1972, Richard went home. He was still technically a “ward of the state”, but this did not deter Richard from going back to Sydney. Richard was then considered a “runaway” and was on the "wanted" list, for a period of two years, but by the end of this time the Welfare Board had given up and Richard also became of age. He was then able to come home again to be with his family, friends and community.
From the time he returned home Richard loved to watch his father work with wood and other resources from nature. He was very inquisitive and he loved drawing whilst at home, so watching his father was a wonderful opportunity to bond with the person who loved him in return. During this time, he had many opportunities to work with his father and he gained many skills about arts and craft. Richard’s other employment included working with the Lewis Street mob, Telstra for ten years and the Ngaku building Society for a couple of years.
Returning to studies, he attended the Djygay centre in Kempsey, studying adult education. Upon completion of this course Richard continued studying to increase his knowledge with new technology. Richard’s art talents were noticed by the Tafe teachers, who offered Richard some employment. He taught art for a brief period of time, eventually he resigned to relocate to the Hunter regions to concentrate on his own development.
It was here then that Richard accepted a position within the Aboriginal Arts and Cultural practices, 1-2-3-4, with the Purrimaibahn unit at Newcastle TAFE. He provided many workshops and lessons to help younger aspiring Aboriginal artists, including young kids at risk.
He has been nominated and won many accolades for his studies and art. The New South Wales TAFE achievement awards were one of many rewards that Richard enjoyed. Richard sits on many local and community committees. Richard now is studying for his Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Deakin University in Victoria. This he intends to use so that he can teach in Universities around the world.
Richard's personal time has been spent painting and privately exhibiting his art works. One of these are his reflections of the Awabakal Dreaming stories which now hangs at the new Aboriginal unit, Wollotuka of the Newcastle University.
Richard began painting at the age of 10, and was instantly recognised for his natural skills and talent, which is reflected in his earliest art works. He moved into traditional symbolic works in his late thirties, enjoying the difficult challenge of reproducing realistic images of stories that are close to him through using many mediums on canvas.
Throughout the 1990's to now, Richard enjoyed painting exclusively on a private commission basis only. Few of his paintings were exhibited as most of Richard's art works completed in this period were purchased by people he knew and who recognised Richard’s talents.
The 2001 Bob Campbell Art competition brought Richard’s artwork to regional and state-wide attention. His widely recognised "Dolphin Dreaming", with which he won this competition, now hangs in Kempsey City Council Chambers.
Through sheer perseverance, dedication and love of his craft, Richard has continued over the years to practice and improve his artistic skills to his present level, enjoying the recognition of national exposure throughout the art arena.
My work depicts stories of my journey, my sisters’ journey, my family’s journey and it can reflect anyone’s journey through life...My story turned around from a sad thing to a good thing. I am working on a few other artworks at the moment including what happened in the boy’s home.
Richard Campbell, Artist