I studied under Quentin Bell and Hans Hess at Sussex, and Christopher Green at the Courtauld, to whom I owe my interest in the inter-relationship of art and architecture in the modern period. My research over the last few years has focused on modern British architecture, public art in the post-war period, and the studio environment and studio life in the later 19th and 20th centuries.
With a Senior Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art I began work in 2011 on a book about artists’ studios and houses in the twentieth century. This project considered studios as spaces of exhibition and spaces of sociability as well as of creation. It examined the representation of the studio in fiction and in the new illustrated journalism of the 1890s, the shift from the ‘show studios’ of the high Victorian artist to places which privileged functional design over and above the display of exotic and costly bric-a-brac, the relationship between urban studio complexes and rural artists’ colonies, and the collaborations and conflicts which arose between artists and the architects who shaped their habitats and workspaces. An Emeritus Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust enabled me to obtain images, and the resulting book, Studio Lives: architect, art and artist in 20th Century Britain is published by Lund Humphries in October 2019.
In 2004-8 I directed a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council on the theme of ‘The life and work of Sir Basil Spence 1907-76: architecture, tradition and modernity’ in collaboration with Miles Glendinning (Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies at Edinburgh College of Art) and Jane Thomas (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland). That project led to the acclaimed Spence centenary exhibition ‘Back to the Future: Basil Spence 1907-76’ in 2007 at the National Gallery of Scotland, which toured to RIBA headquarters in London and the Herbert Art Gallery in 2008, symposia in Edinburgh and Coventry and an international conference on ‘Architecture, Diplomacy and National Identity’ at the British School at Rome in 2008. It culminated in the publication of a major book Basil Spence: Buildings and Projects (RIBA Publications) in 2012.
The Spence research project originated in my exhibition To Build a Cathedral about the design of Coventry Cathedral in 1987 (the first exhibition to be organised by the University's Mead Gallery) and my 1996 monograph Coventry Cathedral. The project involved a team of six – Campbell, Glendinning and Thomas, two post-doctoral fellows and a doctoral student - who used the extensive Spence archive to study his wider career and architectural practice in England, Scotland and overseas. The result has been to demonstrate the selective nature of existing histories of British postwar architecture, which have privileged the work of an avant-garde coterie supported by the critic Reyner Banham at the expense of the more moderate modernism of Spence's generation. It has also highlighted such important issues as the role of architecture in shaping and articulating national identity at a time when Britain's old imperial identity was waning, the nature and role of site-specific public art in the post-war period, the image of the architect in the age of mass-media, and the relationship between the architecture of the new universities of the 1960s and the educational ideals of that period.
I am currently writing an essay about Orpen’s studio for the upcoming Watts Gallery exhibition William Orpen: Method and Mastery, and am working with Leamington Museum & Art Gallery on an exhibition in 2021 called Mercian Modernism, on the generation of artists and designers working in the Midlands after the Second World War.
I am a Trustee and Deputy Chair of the Hosking Houses Trust, which hosts residencies for women artists and writers, and a member of the Fabric Advisory Committee of Coventry Cathedral (Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England).