Born in Dublin in 1942, Paddy Campbell loved drawing and painting from early childhood. At school he achieved honours in his art exams, and he attended courses at the National College of Art in Dublin during the 1960s. For a living Campbell turned to the culinary arts, and trained in catering in Dublin, London and Sweden before returning to Ireland to start his own business in contract catering in 1967. This blossomed into a successful enterprise, which took over Dublin’s famous Bewley’s cafe and coffee business in 1986.
In 1996 at the age of 54, Campbell decided to return to life as an artist and he began to spend his summers in Florence, studying painting and drawing at the Florence Academy and gradually “letting go” of his life as a businessman. By 2001 he had discovered his true gift for sculpture and spent three years in Florence learning the techniques before starting to work at his studio in Via Luna in 2005.
In 2008, as part of his solo exhibition in Fiesole, “Un Altro Mondo”, Campbell unveiled an artistic and narrative approach that was a complete departure from his previous work. Here, he showed four scenarios showing miniature everyday scenes populated by a cast of 1/3rd life size, figures, each of which was a full blown sculpture in its own right. Since then he has created many more scenarios and over 30,000 people have had the fortune of seeing these first hand, both in Ireland and Italy.
In the meantime, Campbell continues to create the figurative bronze works for which he is well known, and he has recently been commissioned to make the official portrait of the president of Ireland Mary McAleese, a portrait of Sean Donlon, Chancellor of the University of Limerick, as well as a memorial to those who lost their lives in Bantry Bay, Co Cork and many private commissions.
His sculptures are to be found in many private and public collections such as the National Self Portrait Gallery in Limerick, University College Dublin, the Aramark Tower in Philadelphia, and the Commune di Fiesole, Italy.
“So each of my sculptures tells a story – by capturing a moment within that story and relating the depth and breadth of all that happens in that instant. What interests me when I compose a sculpture is the blending of experiences, of the subject, of the artist and of the observer, and the limitless possibilities for interpretation.” – Paddy Campbell