Saved from her ‘worst time’ by paint­ing

Christchurch Mail - - MOTORING - MATTHEW SAL­MONS

‘‘I'm yet to meet Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton. They in­vited me over but I haven't been.’’

When Christchurch artist and jazz singer Rhonda Camp­bell took up art as a ca­reer she was at a low point, but paint­ing brought many pos­i­tive changes with it.

As a child she had spent much of her time on artis­tic pur­suits — paint­ing, play­ing guitar, singing — but did not start paint­ing as a ca­reer un­til later in life.

Dur­ing the stock mar­ket crash of 1989, Camp­bell lost her job, was fac­ing los­ing her house and was re­cov­er­ing from in­juries sus­tained from be­ing hit by a car.

By chance, the real es­tate agent sell­ing her house con­vinced her to pick up a paint brush again.

‘‘It was one of the worst times of my life. It was such an epiphany to start paint­ing. Af­ter that I just couldn’t stop paint­ing.’’

Camp­bell be­gan her 28 year ca­reer dis­play­ing her work ‘‘on the fence’’. Lit­er­ally on the fence that once stood out­side the Art Cen­tre, a pop­u­lar spot for bud­ding artists.

Since then she has painted thou­sands of pieces and ex­hib­ited all around the city and be­yond. She paints im­pres­sion­ist pieces, land­scapes, Pi­casso in­spired cu­bist pieces and ‘‘a wee bit of ab­stract’’.

Her work is es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in the United States of Amer­ica; at one stage she was reg­u­larly send­ing crates of her work to Amer- ican buy­ers.

But her most well known clients were mem­bers of for­mer Amer­i­can pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s fam­ily af­ter she was rec­om­mended to them.

She sold four pieces to Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton them­selves and and re­ceived hand-writ­ten let­ters from the for­mer pres­i­dent.

‘‘I’m yet to meet Bill and Hil­lary. They in­vited me over but I haven’t been.’’

In the earth­quakes of 2010 and 2011, Camp­bell lost her reg­u­lar out­lets for ex­hibit­ing and sell­ing her work.

She said she had been able to ex­hibit again for the last four years thanks to re­cently hon­oured New Zealand Or­der of Merit mem­ber and The Clas­sic Villa ho­tel man­ager Pe­ter Mor­ri­son.

‘‘He kindly of­fered me the walls,’’ Camp­bell said.

— Camp­bell’s work is on dis­play this week­end in the hall and front room of The Clas­sic Villa on Worces­ter Blvd. Satur­day and Sun­day 11:30am-4pm. Free en­try.

MATTHEW SAL­MONS/STUFF

Rhonda Camp­bell and Pe­ter Mor­ri­son with some of Rhonda’s work.

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