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Exploring the Radiant World of Trish Campbell’s Light Art at QT

Wander down through level 6 at QT Queenstown, and you’ll find two artworks by Trish Campbell, eloquently illuminating our hallway with bright colours that have us positively glowing.

Step into the vibrant world of Trish Campbell, a visionary artist based in New Zealand whose exploration of color transcends traditional boundaries. From the very inception of her artistic journey, Campbell has been captivated by the power of light, seamlessly blending neon shades to craft pieces that stir profound emotions in those who behold them. She refers to them fondly, “They are a tonic and a mood enhancer as well as an artwork.”

Drawing inspiration from the Light and Space movement of the 1960s, Trish Campbell adeptly translates the grandeur of light into intimate domestic settings. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of Trish Campbell’s light artworks, where every composition is a celebration of color and emotion.

Trish Campbell
Trish Campbell


Inspiration and Concept  

Q: What inspired you to begin creating light-based artworks? 

Trish Campbell: During my first year at art school, I discovered an interest in photography and the use of lightboxes to display images to create and underpin certain meanings. I was interested in nostalgia, homage to everyday things, reflections, transparency, objects – particularly found and repurposed materials. Also, my mother was going through cancer treatment, and I drew on this experience to create my first lightbox. It is called Memory Lace. 

Q: Can you share the conceptual process behind your light-based pieces? How do you decide on any messages or emotions you want to convey? 

Trish Campbell: The lightworks that I have become known for are a derivative of all the above as well as the need to make – construct objects, the dual purpose of an artwork – it has to be something and do something. The power of colour and light when they merge and become more than the sum of their parts.  

A lot of the colour work is from the emotion I am feeling at the time or maybe the music I am listening to. You can only infuse a certain amount into a work, the balance is made of by the viewer.  

Trish Campbell's first artwork 'Memory Lace' 
Trish Campbell’s first artwork ‘Memory Lace’


The Technical Process 

Q: How do you approach the technical aspects of creating artworks, from selecting materials to manipulating light sources? Are there specific techniques or tools you find particularly effective in bringing your vision to life?

Trish Campbell: Most of the technical aspects were learnt by working hands on in the industry – the knowledge gained by working with fabricators and a lot of experimentation and failures.  I am interested in finding the maximum use of any material and using the off cuts too, so nothing goes to waste. All of this just takes time.  Years and years of work and experiments and investment.   


Interactive and Immersive Experiences   

Q: What role does audience interaction or emotion play in the overall impact and meaning of your pieces? 

Trish Campbell: I mentioned above the balance of meaning which comes from the viewer.  A lot of clients have mentioned the joy these works bring them, particularly during the Covid lockdowns. The names I use are often descriptions of what the work is made from rather than what I was feeling as I don’t want to influence the viewer too much. Ultimately, the work will live with someone, and it will contain certain meaning to them. 


Challenges and Rewards 

Q: What challenges do you face when working with your materials, and how do you overcome them? 

Trish Campbell: The acrylic is unforgiving in terms of marks when making and you must keep the work area really clean. As I have become busier, it made sense to get the blank boxes fabricated. The electrical side is also assembled in a workshop where I know it is being completed to industry standards. I assemble the pieces together and complete the work by hand with 3M films and gel to create the colours.  

Q: On the flip side, what aspects of creating light-based art do you find particularly rewarding or unique compared to other mediums? 

Trish Campbell: I think it’s the 3D result of the work and the fact that you are getting something that delivers on multiple fronts. On a basic level you are getting a light. Secondly, you are getting a sculpture that offers an emotional and uplifting experience. Thirdly, there is just a presence that they imbue that makes me feel proud of my journey, my upbringing and all I have learnt that goes into each piece.   

Trish Campbell's works at PE Nation head office
Trish Campbell’s works at PE Nation head office


Evolution of Style 

Q: How has your approach to creating art evolved over time, and are there specific experiences or influences that have shaped this evolution? 

Trish Campbell: I discovered my approach at Art School.  Studying as a mature student meant I had a lot to bring to the table, that first year was like a volcano going off and I couldn’t get all my ideas out fast enough.  Work ethic is key, (thanks mum and dad) and being experimental and just trying stuff out.  I am very inventive, once again my upbringing brought this out as we were a family of makers.   

Q: Are there particular artists, movements, or historical periods that have influenced or inspired your journey? 

Trish Campbell: The Light and Space Artists from the 1960’s when I began to study art and the stained-glass windows and marble statues from my Catholic upbringing. I cite these as the first artworks I experienced – weekly, it was the only thing that interested me in church. 

Trish Campbell's artworks on display at at Astor Bristed Gallery.
Trish Campbell’s artworks on display at at Astor Bristed Gallery.

The QT Queenstown pieces 

Q: Can you tell us about the two pieces on display in Gallery 6?  

Trish Campbell: These works are a continuation of a collaboration I did with Martha’s Fabrics in Newmarket. Trying to distil something from the multitude of fabrics in their store took me down a route of ‘more is more’ and also to offer an alternative to what happens when your lightwork is not on. 

You can now explore two of Trish Campbell’s pieces outside Reds Bar on Level 6, exhibiting in Gallery 6 at QT Queenstown.

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