Originally from New Zealand, Rachel Campbell brought her art career in 2003 to Durham where she showcases her paintings at art exhibits around the Triangle and beyond. Her painting of NECD resident Malinda Davis and her beloved plants has made it all the way to Hollywood, where it appears in the background of NBC’s “The Carmichael Show.”
Because art exhibits are typically based on a specific theme, she chose Davis and her plants for an exhibit on “the elderly in their own environment.” Her goal was to show how elderly residents’ environments reflect who they are.
“It seemed hard to find,” said Campbell. “Once I did find it, it was fantastic. I loved it. I said to myself someone crazy and fun lives there.”
In the process, Davis and Campbell grew very fond of one another. Campbell took pictures of Davis, her dog, and her plants which Davis called “her babies”.
“Her plants were named after who gave them to her,” said Campbell. “It was unbelievable. Once I brought back the painting to show her, she couldn’t believe it. She was so happy. I wish I had a video. It was one of my favorite paintings.”
“Rachel Campbell is a sweet lady,” said Malinda Davis. “She came by my house wanting to take pictures of my plants. When she returned with a painting of my plants and I, I was so excited and surprised. When I heard it was on the show, I couldn’t believe it. I have a copy here in my home.”
Campbell is married and has two children, Georgia and Rupert. Campbell draws inspiration from the many countries she has called home: from New Zealand, Canada, England, and now the United States.
Her website: rachelcampbellpainting.com allows visitors to see where her paintings are displayed publicly and privately in about a dozen countries.
On a typical day, Campbell works on painting for an upcoming exhibit. Each exhibit has a specific theme. Currently, Campbell is in between projects. She is working on painting from North Carolina and New Zealand.
Some of her recent personal works include landscapes in Manson, NC and the hills of New Zealand that she played on as a child. She is working on identity and place in her personal works. Also, Campbell is working to revisit old compositions and apply new techniques and thoughts.
“She is an amazing artist,” said Megan George, a colleague of Campbell. “Her work is a sense of inspiration. The Melinda Davis painting is in my store, Zen Succulent. It blessed our space to have a great painting of an African-American hanging in a African-American business.”
Campbell’s will exhibit in Durham on Nov. 19 at a pre-Christmas open studio. Another exhibit that is coming up for Campbell is at the North Raleigh Country Club in February. Artists win prizes for the works that they sell.