Morgan Campbell, 5 W's!


Noseslide transfer into bank. Melbourne. Ph.: Dave Chami
 
The name of morgan campbell might mostly ring a bell to the younger (and less australian) generations due to the man's recent cameos mid-Magenta video, or his numerous guest board graphic contributions thereby standing as the physical materialization of the bond between his two primary passions: skateboarding and collages. his claim to fame really couldn't have anything to do with a possible guest clip in zero's classic video epic "misled youth", sandwiched somewhere in between the likes of andrew reynolds and tom penny and consisting in an uncredited impossible to frontside lipslide down one of skateboarding's most notorious handrails, or could it? anyway, morgan just so happens to be in paris right now, getting warmed up for his upcoming solo show at Delicatessen Galerie, this very thursday, november 2ND and, somehow, he did find just enough spare time to set aside for us to present you with his take on our classic "5 w's" format - please see below!

Hello Morgan! First off, why Paris?

The Three Cities shows are in three cities (surprise to surprise). Melbourne happens to be a fantastic city and happens to be where I live. Glasgow is a stunning city on an architectural and a cultural level. And it happens to be a former home of mine. Why Paris? Well this show is timed with a family gathering where myself, my girlfriend, my sister, her partner and my mother are here for my stepfather's eightieth. So I thought it would be a challenge and a whole lot of fun to have a little show while they were here.

"The older matte issues, pre 1978-ish, work much better with glue"

So that's one reason. There are actually a few more. Paris is also one of the urban jewels of the planet so it makes a pretty incredible environment and breathtaking backdrop for anything kind of event. I also have French roots, my actual father is from here and even though I don't have too much to do with him, I do have many other family members here that I am very close to. I feel a great connection with his country so it made sense to eventually do something here with my art. I have always loved Paris and who knows, one day I might even live here. 


"Paris Block Party", collage by Morgan Campbell / Déjà Glu.

Regarding how the show came about - I have a great friend here, you may have heard of him: the one and only Soy Panday. I of course knew he was an accomplished artist, and I really love his work. I asked Soy if he might know a spot to hold a little show and he came through with flying (tri-)colours. The show is at a delightful gallery called "Galerie Delicatessen" in the eleventh Arrondissement. I met the gallery owner the other day and took an instant liking to him: Arnaud is a ball of creative energy; I am really looking forward to working with him.

Where do you find all those National Geographic back issues from such ancient times?

Have you ever collected vinyl? Often the National Geographics are at very similar locations to where you find records. Second hand stores, flea markets, op shops and garage sales. My friend AJ hooked me up to this spot called RMC Stamps in Moonee Ponds (Melbourne) where I purchased the majority of my collection.


Morgan in his studio. Ph.: Casey Foley

It is very easy to find issues that I don't need. I only use issues from December 1989 and earlier.

Often you will find ones from the 90's and 00’s, which is frustrating. I now have all of the 80's covered and most of the 70's. So I am really hunting for the 60s and 50s ones and of course anything earlier.

The world really did look amazing in the 60s - as did all the colours in the reproduction of the photos. The older matte issues (pre 78-ish) also work much better with glue. 


Guest artist boards and the corresponding original collages, as seen at Morgan's "Three Cities" Melbourne show.

Where do you stockpile them, and is there a certain specific location you'd rather be at, working on your collages?

I stockpile them in my studio, which is in my house in Fitzroy, Melbourne. I used to have too many skate mags. Now I just have too many mags in general. And the National Geographic stash has long since over taken my stash of Slap Mags.

I do enjoy making them on the road. But these days with all my folders, files, pin up boards and my five-hundred-plus mags I probably make my best work in my studio.

I made a piece in Bali once which is now in my mother's collection. It is called "Meanwhile in Atlantis" and I must admit that stands out to me as it was created in another place.

Whilst travelling I often stick to another style of collage, which involves a travel journal that I am not permitted to write in, it is an image journal. It is solely consisted of collages of found objects, maps, news clippings and flyers. That usually dominates my spare time whilst on the road and is a fantastic way of capturing candid moments and the graphic design of any era.

"Meanwhile in Atlantis", collage by Morgan Campbell / Déjà Glu.
 
When can we expect to see you in a Zero video again?

The Zero trick! Ha ha. So many people still comment on it. I owe Jamie a lot for that one. In between Reynolds and Rowley in "Misled Youth"!

There are so many great stories associated with that session. I had relearnt impossible lipslides earlier that year; I did them down a small skatepark rail. Then Laban makes the claim that I could do one down an actual rail. The first one I tried was the ARCO rails. They are the square brown eight stairs that Heath did a very early backside nosebluntslide on. Koston also shot a very remember able selfie cover of Big Brother there. Shooting his own boardslide with Kosick's fisheye.

Anyway I tried it a couple of times there and we got kicked out. But I knew I could do it as I slid most of the attempts. Maybe landed on one. The next spot I wanted to try was San Dieguito. That's the rail that Penny annihilated. I was kicking it at TransWorld one day and Jamie Thomas came past. He had heard about my claim and said something along the lines of: "I heard you're impossible lipping rails. If you do try again, I would love to film it."

"I was so anxious as we had stood up Jamie Thomas"

If you make your bed you have got to sleep in it right? So a few days later, I head to the school with Matt Mumford and we are due to meet Dave Swift and Jamie Thomas there. Much to my alarm, the school was full of people lurking in all the hallways. Matt was over it. And Dave admitted it was going to be impossible to skate the school. Before Jamie had rocked up, we headed to a local gap and Matt tries to back 180 it for twenty minutes max. I was so anxious as we had stood up Jamie Thomas.

We went back to the school and there were still staff milling about. There was no Chief to be found. And no mobile phones to call him on. Despite the obvious bust factor, we gave it a shot... Much to our shock, I was rolling away within two or three rolls of film. Which is equal to six to nine attempts. We bailed, and after wee accidental tip off from Swift, Matt and I went to the Encinitas YMCA and watched Sluggo try 900's from the carpark!

So I had gotten the trick and sequence, but no footage - plus I stood up Jamie! So, a week later, I went back with Matt and Jamie. I asked Jamie and Matt if they felt like skating the rail with me. Jamie said something like: "sure, but I'm not trying to invent some shit" - which obviously installed mad confidence in me. We skated the ten for a good fifteen minutes, reeling off the basics. There were barely any bails. Back in Australia, no one was really skating rails this big, let alone warming up on them, so the level of these guys was clearly having an affect on me.

Nosebluntslide way back in 1992. Ph.: Rick Curran
 

Once I was ready, Jamie got behind the VX. This was the first time I ever filmed with a death lens. It was intimidating seeing Jamie's noggin pop up above the steps but how close he would get was downright terrifying. I again made it pretty quickly but Jamie said the landing was a "little squirrelly". Ha ha. So I tried it again and it took almost an hour during which I landed another and sacked once (he ended up using the squirrelly one).

Now the main reason I am bothering to explain this story is due to what happened after. See Jamie and Matt loved to bet, on almost anything. This day Matt said "I get to choose five tricks that I know you can do, and you get ten tries to do all of them." Jamie was up for it and asked what the wager was? Matt said $100 and set the tricks (which went something like): frontside five-o, frontside feeble, backside smith grind, frontside boardslide (he added "because you suck at them") and frontside nosegrind. Jamie made all the tricks with only one or two bails, one was on the nosegrind. Matt was pissed. "Ok double or nothing: three nose grinds in three tries."

"I pretended to leave, but went and hid at the bottom of the hallway"

Jamie agreed to a $200 wager this time, but then he missed the third nosegrind. Matt laughed. Jamie was pissed. Matt packed up and left for the carpark. Jamie went back up the stairs. I pretended to leave, but went and hid at the bottom of the hallway. It was there I witnessed Jamie do three nosegrinds in a row by himself. Undocumented. Unseen by anyone else. I had witnessed a monumental example of the guy's commitment.  

Now I lost my track there for a minute - please apologize. I didn't mean to stray so much from the initial question. I am not sure if I'll film another trick for a Zero video as not long after New Year's, 2000, I had some serious falls on rails which led me to skating smaller objects. These days, if I skate something over head-high, it is more than likely to be a bank and not a drop.

To keep skating and keep progressing I feel you need to adapt to your body. I am still learning, but I have to be cunning when it comes to my obstacles or I could end it all in one slam.

I love the state of current skateboarding because anything goes and progression is happening in every single direction. Every day I see tricks and lines that we wouldn't have even dreamt of being possible in our youth.


"Membrane of the Seine", collage by Morgan Campbell / Déjà Glu.

When (again!) can we expect to see your artwork grace a guest board again?

I am working on a couple of collaborations right now, but I won't mention them in fear of jinxing them. Other things will manifest themselves over the next year or so I think.

Paris will be my third solo show this year, and next year I am keen on working on collaborations and smaller projects. It will be less overwhelming I think, and a whole lot of fun.

"Fred Gall - skated Perth with him in 1996 and he opened my eyes to my own city's potential"

Who are the five skaters and the five artists who've left the biggest mark on you, personally? Doesn't have to be pros or famous artists - just styles that have blown your mind, or broadened your general perspective, maybe.

Skaters:

Mark Gonzales - the loosest experimental genius we have ever seen.
Mike Carroll - just love his poise and finesse.
Fred Gall - skated Perth with him in 1996 and he opened my eyes to my own city's potential.
Alex Campbell - the perfect embodiment of power, style and speed.
Mike Arnold - is already stretching the possibilities and will make a huge impact in coming years.

Artists: 

Henri Cartier Bresson - photography inspiration.
Keith Haring - mural inspiration.
Spike Jonze - multimedia inspiration.
Grace Jones - performance inspiration.
Keith McIvor (JD Twitch from Optimo) - musical inspiration. 


Panorama of Morgan's "Three Cities" Melbourne show. Ph.: Nick Maughan

Finally, what interpretation would you personally make of your own art?

Skateboarding was my first ticket to freedom. Due to the limitation of the human body I knew it might not be with me for eternity.

I always yearned for another outlet, another activity that would perfectly unite the mind and body. I know that I could find it with music, but I am unable to play an instrument at this point.

But yes, stumbling across collage has been a great bonus for me.

"It really pays to take away the grids and the lines and rejoice an empty canvas to dance with"

It is about creation, but an ability to let the mind wander. Do you ever get that moment where you black out during a skateboard trick? One minute you are trying it. And the next minute you are rolling away? It happens to me almost every late night spent doing collage. I get up the next day eager to see what the little elves in my head created the night before, as there is often no real recollection of making them.

The subconscious is always yearning to take over. It does so every time we rest, but not everyone allows it to happen while we are awake. I feel that maybe we have too much structure in our lives, it really pays to take away the grids and the lines and rejoice an empty canvas to dance with.  

Merci, Morgan!

_

Feel free to catch up with Morgan this thursday, November 2nd at the Delicatessen Galerie in Paris, for the final installment in his "Three Cities" series of exhibitions.

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