194 different artworks for sale
At the age of 93, artist Jackie Stanley is still painting. Since the death of her husband Campbell Bruce in 2014, she has continued to collect work – currently with a passion for printmaking. Both prolific collectors, the couple were two of the most recognizable faces of the contemporary art scene in Ireland for almost half a century.
Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green will be holding a timed online sale of 194 artworks from their collection ending Tuesday 1st February with an in-store viewing over the weekend starting Friday 28th January.
Campbell Bruce, born in 1927, left his home on the island of St. Helena at the age of nine and came to England to receive an education. Because of the lightning, he had to be evacuated from London and was never to see his father again.
After training at Croydon School of Art and the Royal College of Art, he exhibited in Great Britain and held various teaching positions. He then married artist Jackie Stanley, who had been exhibiting and painting 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 Arts at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), a tenure he held for more than two decades.
Jackie, who settled in Sandymount, admitted in an interview with The Irish Examiner in 2015 that a long-term stay was not initially planned as the couple had only intended to stay for five years.
It was at this time, however, that Margaret Thatcher, as Secretary of Education, took a harder line on all things art, describing Francis Bacon as “the man who paints these horrible pictures”. England’s loss was Ireland’s gain, as described by Prof. Declan McGonagle, then Director of NCAD, as Campbell “really energized the (fine arts) faculty and created a new identity for the college”.
‘Renaissance in NCAD’
He was also described in one of the many obituaries as “the renaissance of NCAD that transformed Irish art” and several generations of Irish artists benefited from his ability to nurture talent such as Patrick Scott, Nigel Rolfe and Sean Scully (a former pupil of Campbell’s) as a Teacher.
Robert Ballagh, a close friend of 40 years, told the Irish Times in 2015 that Campbell was “the best arts teacher because he never tried to project himself onto his students but to liberate them”.
The couple, known for their support of young artists in Ireland, were often spotted attending several art openings over the course of an evening during their 60-year marriage, and as well as teaching and curating, Campbell and Jackie were an accomplished painter of coastal and landscape scenes from West Cork.
In later years he exhibited at Solomon Gallery and Gormley’s Fine Art, and at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), to which he was elected in 2005.
Together with art historian and first director of collections at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) Catherine Marshall, he curated a major exhibition entitled Siar 50 – Fifty Years of Irish Art, held at the museum in Kilmainham, drawing from the extensive collections of the Irish Contemporary Arts Society (ICAS).
Jackie founded Black Church Print Studio with Barbara Dunne, Andy Folan, Jan de Fouw and Sara Horgan which is now the workplace for some of Ireland’s leading contemporary printmakers. With Betty Ballagh, she also initiated 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 thanks to the many friendships the couple had with various artists here in Ireland and the UK. With a total of 194 pieces up for auction there are many familiar names including the work of Mick O’Dea, Sean McSweeney, Robert Ballagh, Donald Teskey, Mick Mulcahy, Charlie Whisker and William Crozier.
Lesser known names
It also features many lesser-known names who were either Campbell’s students or talent the couple came across and wanted to support. The collection is a great insight into the couple’s passion for art, regardless of the returns: “They just took great joy in supporting the arts and enjoyed their role as collectors,” said Nicholas Gore Grimes, who curated the auction . with estimates between 50 and 4,000 euros.
Daughter Nichola says her parents “were described as ‘everywhere,’ often attending two or three private (art) viewings in one evening.” At the humanist funeral service for her father in Glasnevin in 2014, she described him in a moving greeting as a man who could make things grow, be it “vegetables, colors, lights or daughters”.
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 alike.