Poems out for Summer

June 12th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink


Here’s some summer poetry reading recommendations with a narcissistic twist.

Two poems from my Greenlandic series have been accepted by The Rialto, one of my favourite magazines – notable for its glorious artwork (the exuberant cover to this issue is by Angie Lewin). You can buy The Rialto in all good bookshops, and here. From Norfolk to Melbourne, where How To Say ‘I Love You’ In Greenlandic features in Australian Poetry Journal 3.2 – this is a special full-colour edition of the journal devoted to Concrete poetry. I discovered several exciting new writers and artists in its pages. Another arctic poem ‘Fragment’ will appear in Magma 59, on the theme of breakages. Finally, an extract from my long poem The Course of Empire, set in Massachusetts, appears in Stravaig, the journal of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, edited by Elizabeth Rimmer. It is available online to all for free here.






Arctic Encounters

June 1st, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

IMG_5807 Dr Simone Abram reads Itoqqippoq

The groundbreaking research project Arctic Encounters: Contemporary Travel/Writing in the European High North invited me to exhibit a selection of artists’ books at a conference on The Postcolonial Arctic at the University of Leeds in May. The exhibition represented a selection of work created during the last five years, both my own books and those featuring my poems designed and printed by Roni Gross and Peter Schell of Z’roah Press in New York.

Arctic Encounters describes itself as ‘an international collaborative research project that looks at the increasingly important role of cultural tourism in fashioning 21st-century understandings of the European Arctic. The project’s general objective is to account for the social and environmental complexities of the High North – an area which incorporates some of Europe’s most geographically extreme regions – as these are inflected in the mutual relationship between a wide range of recent travel practices and equally diverse representations of those practices framed in both verbal and visual terms (e.g. travel writing and documentary film).’ I encourage readers to read about the project’s progress on their blog.

The conference was an exciting opportunity to exchange ideas with leading international thinkers on many aspects of Arctic life. I learnt a great deal, and my conversations helped me develop ideas for future projects. I’m grateful to the Arctic Encounters team and the School of English at the University of Leeds for their warm hospitality.

leeds conference 2014

 Kaffemik: Discussing the (Icelandic) weather with Ingrid Medby and Michael Leonard

2014 postarctic

A talk on my work in the Alumni Room (under the watchful eye of Jon Silkin)

Vantar | Missing At Lady Margaret Hall

May 25th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink


My year as Visual & Performing Artist in Residence at Lady Margaret Hall is drawing to a close, and this month the building was transformed by the appearance of Icelandic snowscapes: my new work, Vantar | Missing. Rather than turning one of the grand function rooms into a conventional exhibition space, Vantar | Missing was installed in the winding corridors at the heart of the college, which corresponded to the zigzag paths of the avalanche defences featured in the work.

The avalanche is a subject that has haunted me since I first spent time in Iceland in 2012. Avalanches caused 198 deaths in Iceland during the twentieth century, but it was not until 1999 that avalanche defences were built around Siglufjörður, the small town at the northernmost tip of the island where I was living. Now, these subtle feats of engineering Stóri-boli (Big bull) and Litli-boli (Little bull) have become part of the mountain landscape, a barely perceptible human intervention dividing the town’s remaining inhabitants from the wilderness.

This project has led to the publication of a new book and a print series, in which diptychs record changes in mountain snow cover and domestic interiors. The Icelandic word ‘vantar’ refers both to a lost object or person and to the experience of loss. People lost in the mountains are a frequent trope of Icelandic literature, from the sagas to contemporary crime fiction. I wanted to consider this theme from the angle of the people left behind.


Arts Council Award

May 21st, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

Iceberg Upernavik

My application to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme for funding for the year-long project Arctic Poems: Quujaavaarssuq & the Queen of the Sea has been successful.

This project supports the completion of my poetry collection, and an associated programme of events in London, Brighton, Oxford, Bristol and Newcastle.

This collection surveys the culture of arctic Greenland from prehistory to the present, with a focus on the hardships experienced by indigenous communities under colonial rule during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The poems address the tensions between modern life and traditional means of subsistence in the Arctic, and explore themes of cross-cultural communication, cultural and species extinction, landscape and climate change. Many of the poems use forms that are strongly linked to oral performance such as ballads and pantoums. The sequence entitled Quujaavaarssuq and the Queen of the Sea retells the legendary journey of the Greenlandic hero Quujaavaarssuq to beg forgiveness from the Queen of the Sea, who destroyed the ice as an act of revenge on the humans who pollute her waters.

The poems will be performed at five readings around the UK during 2014 and 2015. An associated series of six free workshops (The Library of Ice) held in Oxford this winter will introduce new audiences to contemporary writing on environmental themes. Details of these events will be finalised over the summer.

New Exhibition: Vantar | Missing

April 10th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.24.55










Inconstant Water

April 4th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink


I’m delighted to announce the publication of a new collaboration with the printer Roni Gross. Inconstant Water examines the art of travel across the sea, with particular reference to the carved wooden maps of Anmassalik. Inconstant Water was commissioned for Voyage Boxed, a project co-ordinated by Imi Maufe and Rona Rangsch.

Stories of sea journeys mesmerize readers with images of longing, discoveries, hardship and survival, of determination and being lost, of the width of the open sea, the magic of foreign destinations; they tell us how men and women face up to the elements of wind and water, how they defeat them or are defeated. But how and why do contemporary artists access the theme of sea journeys, what are their motivations and intentions, and which modes of expression do they employ?

The exhibition Voyage: sea journeys, island hopping and trans-oceanic concepts was held at Künstlerhaus Dortmund, Germany in 2013, curated by Maufe and Rangsch. Voyage, purposefully shown in a land-locked city, brought together artists whose works explored the theme in often subtle and less obvious ways than one would expect. The curators wanted Voyage to tour, and so they commissioned Voyage Boxed: ‘a creative answer to the issues involved with touring exhibitions.’ This miniature version of the exhibition is reminiscent of the ‘ditty boxes’, containers in which sailors on long sea voyages kept their precious belongings, and which Scottish artist John Cumming pays tribute to in his work.

Voyage Boxed aims to represent the original exhibition as a multiple edition in a format of just 14.8x 14.8cm. The box includes a collection of artworks by 16 of the Voyage artists and the two artist-curators, and the original exhibition catalogue. Voyage Boxed has been produced as a limited edition of 50, with each artist receiving two copies.
Voyage Boxed Box 11 imi
Contributing artists:
 Peter Bennett (UK), Nancy Campbell (UK) with Roni Gross (USA), John Cumming (UK), David Faithfull (UK), Andrew Friend (UK), Lutz Fritsch (DE), Matthew Herring (UK), 
Gunnar Jonsson (IS), Simon Le Ruez (UK/DE) David Lilburn (IR), Imi Maufe (UK/NO), 
Rona Rangsch (DE), Ding Ren (USA), Aslak Gurholt Rønsen (NO), Ian Stephen with Christine Morrison (UK), Jeff Talman (USA), Sally Waterman (UK), 
and Philippa Wood (UK).

Voyage Boxed 9 imi

Scott’s Negatives

March 14th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

scott03_2849260cBritish Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Ponies on the march, Great Ice Barrier,
2 December 1911
(Robert Falcon Scott/Scott Polar Research Institute)

Readers who share my interest in the polar regions may have heard that the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge has launched a campaign to purchase 113 negatives from Scott’s Antarctic Expedition. If SPRI are able to raise £275,000 by 25 March, the negatives will join an outstanding picture library. A full report can be read in The Telegraph and there’s more on the campaign at the Polar Museum homepage.

Spring! New Events and Exhibitions

March 12th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

плакат А3Preparations continue for my solo exhibition of new work in Oxford in May… meanwhile some past projects will be on show in a number of group exhibitions during the spring.

If you are in Moscow, my work can be seen in Artists’ Books in the UK and Russia in the State Historical, Architectural, Art & Landscape Museum-Reserve Tsaritsyno between 13 March and 18 May.

In Bristol, one of my first and favourite works, After Light (made in 2008 in collaboration with photographer Paula Naughton) can be seen in a celebration of the artists books collective AM Bruno in AM Bruno 2008-2014, Tom Trusky Exhibition Cases Centre forFine Print Research, between 3 March and 14 April.

In New York, my poems will be on show in The Night Hunter and Tikilluarit, two books conceived by the remarkable printer Roni Gross, exhibited at The Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair on 5 and 6 April. Look out for the Z’roah Press stand.

Taking a little bit of Denmark to Minnesota, my book Doverodde will appear in Fluxjob, an exhibition at the MCBA Star Tribune Foundation Gallery, from 7 February to 6 March. Being a great admirer of John Cage I wish I could get over to Minnesota to see the related show, Cage, on the role of musicians and composers in the Fluxus movement.

Spring has also seen a few poets emerging to read. Last Friday I had a wonderful evening reading with Grażyna Wojcieszko and Sarah Luczaj at The Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford, and on Thursday 13 March I’ll be reading with the fine poet Laressa Dickey (also published by MIEL editions) at Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham as part of the city’s States of Independence Festival.

An Arctic Alphabet

February 10th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink


My award-winning artist’s book How To Say ‘I Love You’ In Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet has just been published by MIEL editions.

‘In this beautiful publication Campbell magically manages to evoke the icy North through the warmth and power of the Greenlandic language. Exquisite pochoir prints sit alongside hand-printed type – a perfect marriage between image and text.’ — Emma Stibbon RA

“a book that is not only beautiful but full of joy, love & quiet intensity”
— Oliver Clarke, Collinge & Clark Books

Further details, including how to order a copy, can be found here.

I’ve written a short essay on ice and language in the arctic which appears on the MIEL blog.

Vantar / Missing

January 18th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

vantarAMy new print series Vantar / Missing has just come off the press at Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol.

The series of six diptychs record the transitory fields of mountain snow cover and domestic linen over one winter in Siglufjörður, Iceland. The photographs were taken during a residency at Siglufjörður in 2012.

Missing (‘Vantar’ in Icelandic) can refer both to a lost object or person and the experience of loss.

Avalanches caused 193 deaths in Iceland during the twentieth century. It was not until 1999 that avalanche defences were built around the northern town of Siglufjörður. Stóri-boli (Big bull) and Litli-boli (Little bull) wind around the mountains just above the town’s highest buildings. This barely perceptible human intervention divides the town from the mountain wilderness.

Vantar / Missing will be exhibited at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in May this year.