Major Exhibition in Florence for Irish Sculptor Paddy Campbell
Thousands of Florentines and tourists alike will enjoy the works of Irish sculptor Paddy Campbell who was selected by the Province of Florence to run a unique exhibition as a centrepiece in the renowned Palazzo Medici Riccardi museum in Florence. The Campbell Exhibition in Florence is called ‘DiCuore’ – From the Heart. It runs through July and August. The exhibition was opened by the President of the Province of Florence, Andrea Barducci and by the Ambassador of Ireland to Italy, Patrick Hennessy.
The Florence exhibition marks Campbell’s 70th year and an extraordinary journey from Irish business life into the world of international sculpture, over the past 20 years. He is the owner of Campbell Bewley Group and coffee, tea and cafes company Bewley’s. Exhibits in Florence also include a deeply impressive new work by Campbell which will become a memorial to victims of conflict in the city of Vicchio near Florence.
The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a cultural magnet for art lovers worldwide. The Palazzo Medici Riccardi is one of the historic city’s most important museums housing many major artworks and architectural innovations of its time (1445). It is the building where Michelangelo started sculpting at the age of 13. Today, the Palazzo holds exhibitions by contemporary sculptors, currently including works by Dali and the renowned German sculptor Gunther Stilling.
For the duration of this special exhibition at Palazzo Medici Riccardi, two giant Sculptures by Paddy Campbell are on view to the public for the very first time.
“Wind and Water” is a stunning bronze sculpture, featuring 2 back to back dancing figures, almost 5 metres high. It has already been acquired by University College Dublin for their new campus, where they have an extensive outdoor sculpture collection. A second version of this piece (entitled “Wind and Sea”) is to be installed at the Slieve Donard Hotel, New Castle, Co Down, Northern Ireland, where Percy French’s famous “Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea”.
The sculpture “Life and Death” is a 7 metres-high memorial commissioned by the Comune of Vicchio del Mugello in 2012, near Florence, to commemorate the victims of all wars. It will be formally unveiled in September 2013 in the centre of Vicchio (40kms north of Florence), the birthplace of Benvenuto Cellini, Giotto, and Fra Angelico.
Captured in bronze, “Life and Death” features the figure of a woman standing on the ground extending her hand longingly to a male figure descending from the sky and reaching downwards. His body transcends from human materiality into the spiritual environment, and is also intermixed into the earth and vines of Tuscany.
Spent bullets collected from the ground in the area around Vicchio, where soldiers fought during WW2, will also be melted and mixed into to the bronze that will be used to make the new sculpture.
The exhibition is also hosting a complete selection of life size figures by Paddy Campbell and about 30 of his 1/3 life size sculptures interacting in a series of true life scenarios. These are scenes from everyday life populated by crowds of real 1/3rd sized sculptures. Supported with hundreds of tiny specially-styled props, accessories and clothes, the scenarios are fun and approachable, and tell the myriad stories of normal people.
The largest of the three scenarios on show depicts Florence’s beloved Sant’Ambrogio Market, complete with stalls, buyers, sellers and all the chaos that goes with them.
Paddy Campbell – Brief Biography
Paddy Campbell has a life long love for art. He began his career in culinary arts and started his own business in contract catering, taking over Dublin’s famous Bewley’s café and coffee business. In 1996, he decided to return to life as an artist and he began to spend his summers in Florence, studying art at the Florence Academy and by 2001 he had discovered his true gift for sculpture. He spent three years in Florence learning the techniques before starting to work at his studio in Via Luna in 2005 to date.
The works of Paddy Campbell have been exhibited in prestigious galleries including the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, Gormley’s Fine Art in Dublin and Belfast, Petley’s Fine Art in London, the Galleria Franco Senesi Fine Art In Positano and Capri, the Spagnoli Gallery in Florence, the Palazzo Communale in Fiesole, the Palazzo Corsini in Florence, the Palazzo d’Arnolfo in San Giovanni Valdarno, and the Casa Cellini in Vicchio.
Other commissioned public and private works include the official portrait of the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, the portrait of the Chancellor of the University of Limerick, Sean Donlon, and a memorial to people missing to the sea off Bantry Bay, Cork, Ireland.