194 various works of art for sale
At 93, artist Jackie Stanley is still painting. Since the death of her husband Campbell Bruce in 2014, she also continues to collect works – currently with a passion for prints. The couple, both prolific collectors, were two of the best-known faces of the Irish contemporary art scene for almost half a century.
Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green will be holding an online timed sale of 194 works of art from their collection, ending on Tuesday 1st February, with a visit to the auction house over the weekend starting on Friday 28th January.
Born in 1927, Campbell Bruce left his home on the island of Saint Helena at the age of nine and arrived in England to be educated. Due to the Blitz, he had to be evacuated from London and was never to see his father again.
After training at the Croydon School of Art and the Royal College of Art, he exhibited in the UK while holding various teaching positions. He then married the artist Jackie Stanley, who has exhibited and painted in Ireland since the late 1960s.
The couple arrived in Ireland from London in 1974, where Campbell took on the role of Professor of Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), a tenure he held for more than two decades.
Moving to Sandymount, Jackie admitted in an interview with the Irish Examiner in 2015 that a long-term stay was not originally planned as the couple had only planned a stay of five years.
At this time, however, Margaret Thatcher, as Minister of Education, was narrowing down on anything to do with the arts, describing Francis Bacon as “that man who paints those ghastly pictures”. So England’s loss was Ireland’s gain, as Campbell was described by Professor Declan McGonagle, then Director of NCAD, as having “really energized the (fine arts) department and established a new identity for the college.
“Rebirth in the NCAD”
Also described in one of many obituaries as having sparked “an NCAD renaissance that changed Irish art”, several generations of Irish artists have benefited from its ability to attract talent such as Patrick Scott, Nigel Rolfe and Sean Scully (a former student of Campbell) as teachers.
Robert Ballagh, a close friend of 40 years, told The Irish Times in 2015 that Campbell “was the best kind of arts educator, in that he never sought to project himself onto his students but to to free”.
Renowned for their support of young artists in Ireland, the couple have often been seen at several art previews in one evening throughout their 60-year marriage, and as well as teaching and curating, Campbell , as well as Jackie, were accomplished artists. painter, depicting coastal and landscape scenes of West Cork.
Later he exhibited at the Solomon Gallery and Gormley’s Fine Art as well as the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), to which he was elected in 2005.
Alongside Catherine Marshall, art historian and first head of collections at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), he curated a major exhibition entitled Siar 50 – Fifty Years of Irish Art, held at Kilmainham Museum and drew inspiration from the extensive collections of the Irish Contemporary Arts Society (ICAS).
Jackie, along with Barbara Dunne, Andy Folan, Jan de Fouw and Sara Horgan, established the Black Church Print Studio, which is now the workspace of some of Ireland’s leading contemporary printmakers. Along with Betty Ballagh, she also launched the National Portrait Awards, which ran for a decade. She is also a long-standing and dedicated member of the Dublin Arts Club.
Their collection was built through the many friendships the couple had with various artists here in Ireland and the UK. With a total of 194 pieces on sale there are many household names including the work of Mick O’Dea, Sean McSweeney, Robert Ballagh, Donald Teskey, Mick Mulcahy, Charlie Whisker and William Crozier.
Less familiar names
Also featured are many less familiar names, who were either students of Campbell’s or talents the couple encountered and wanted to support. The collection is a great insight into the couple’s passion for art, regardless of return on investment: “They just had a lot of fun supporting the arts and relished their role as collectors,” according to Nicholas Gore Grimes, who organized the sale, whose estimates range from €50 to €4,000.
His daughter Nichola says her parents “were described as being ‘everywhere’, often attending two or three private (art) openings in one night”. In a moving greeting at the humanist funeral held in Glasnevin for her father in 2014, she describes him as the man who could make things grow, be they “vegetables, colors, lights or girls”.
Indeed, his and Jackie’s presence on the Irish art scene for 50 years will be remembered for their tremendous help and support to Irish artists, critics and galleries.