The Spaces Between the Letters: Jon Campbell
I’m willing to give the cab driver the benefit of the doubt because he looks a lot like the American comedian Hannibal Buress, and that makes you feel pretty good, but by the time the cab is deep into the dark heart of Coburg I can’t not say anything; from the back seat it feels as though we’re being buffeted by high winds, and as the cab lurches back and forth— accelerating, breaking, and accelerating—I feel nauseous.
Hey, what’s wrong with your cab?
I repeat the question…
“It needs a service. Why, are you an expert?”
No mate, it just feels like we’re going to fly off the road…
This cab is fucked!
Offended by the profanity, the driver fixes me with a dirty look via the rear view mirror and then, as the cab veers off the main road into a nest of backstreets, we suddenly come up against a sign: ROAD CLOSED. Ignoring the warning the driver swerves around some orange witches hats and pulls up hard against the gutter.
After an ugly dispute over the existence of Motorpass cards— “They had them a long time ago, but no more…” —I am deposited onto a freezing windswept street about a kilometre from Jon Campbell’s house.
When I arrive it’s what real estate agents might call ‘neat as a pin’: a green and red Federation style bungalow with a blonde brick garden and potted succulents. Campbell opens the door, smiling. The inside of the house is as pristine as the outside: mid-century chairs and credenza, the walls dotted with examples of Campbell’s work and those of friends and others. It seems like the house has the same colour scheme as Campbell’s latest canvases, an impression made even more intense by the apple red splash back in the kitchen and walls painted in rectangles and squares of green, pink, grey and blue. On one wall is a painting of a green apple. Campbell tells me that it’s one of his own, painted for an “apple themed group show”. It sits on the wall, a perfectly balanced addition to the kitchen decor. After coffee and a blueberry muffin made by one of Campbell’s two daughters, we retire to the backyard studio.