Installation view of Jon Campbell and Stephen Bush’s work on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.      Image: Sean Fennessy

Jon Campbell and Stephen Bush

Jon Campbell
(b. 1961, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lives and works in Melbourne)
Stephen Bush
(b. 1958, Colac, Victoria. Lives and works in Birregurra)

First meeting at RMIT University in 1980, Jon Campbell and Stephen Bush have been friends and collaborators for more than forty years. Both art and music have shaped their personal and professional relationship, with the pair immersed in Melbourne’s independent music scene. This thread frequently recurs in their collaborative artworks.

In 2019, Campbell and Bush initiated an exhibition swap between their respective representative galleries – Darren Knight in Sydney and Sutton Gallery in Melbourne – seizing the opportunity to work collaboratively on what would become the Holborn Bars series. The series comprises eight works on paper, originally created by Bush in 2016 and featuring historical figures and architecture, including the Victorian terracotta Holborn Bars building in London, from which the series takes its name. In 2020, Campbell added his signature colloquialisms to the works, resulting in a sense of energy and tension emblematic of the style the duo has become known for over the past four decades.

Born in Ireland but based in Melbourne since the age of three, Jon Campbell explores vernacular language and pop culture through paintings, drawings, neon-light works, installations and music. His work celebrates the language of the everyday – in particular, Australian slang. Campbell’s work is held by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Artbank; and the Australian Football League, Melbourne. He has been the recipient of several awards, including the Basil Sellers Art Prize in 2012. A monograph of Campbell’s work was published in 2010.

Stephen Bush is a painter who explores modes of representational painting and its history. Known for his use of amplified colour and experimentation with the techniques and processes of painting, his work explores new narrative possibilities. Bush has exhibited solo all over Australia and internationally in Berlin, New York and Los Angeles. His work is held in the collections of most major state galleries in Australia, as well as Artbank, Sydney; Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria; Cairns Art Gallery, Queensland; the J. L. Stewart Collection, New York; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Deakin University, Melbourne; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Smorgon Collection, Melbourne; and in several private collections in Australia, the United States and Europe.