Calum Colvin OBE RSA is one of Europe’s most innovative and renowned photographer artists.
‘There is a magical character to the art of Calum Colvin. . . . Colvin’s work has, historically and consistently, conjured a world that is deceptively attractive, subtly alluring, and filled with spectacular enchantments. The multiple manipulations and the artfulness of this photography present a vision that is spellbinding.’ These are the opening words of art historian Tom Normand’s new book, ‘The Constructed Worlds of Calum Colvin: Symbol, Allegory, Myth,’ which charts Colvin’s career from its origins in sculpture and drawing to the complex constructed worlds captured in the photographic artworks of today.
Colvin’s work evolved to combine the three-dimensionality of sculpture with the fixed perspective of the camera. Firstly he creates an elaborate installation based on extensive research, which ‘sets the stage.’ He then paints directly onto this arrangement of everyday objects (in a portrait, numerous objects related to the subject), steps back to view it as two dimensions through the lens of his large format camera, adjusts the painting and arrangement, and repeats until he is ready to photograph the scene. Finally the scene is photographed on film, digitised and printed onto paper or canvas. The result is an incredibly detailed and beautifully rich image. When I made my studio visit in June last year, Colvin was working on a portrait of Bertrand Russell. It was completely awe inspiring to see the complexity of the processes involved in creating the artwork.
Calum Colvin has exhibited his work nationally and internationally for over 30 years since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1985. He is best known for his large-scale constructed photographic artworks. These visual illusions or allegories address topics as diverse as the history of art; Scottish culture and identity; the historical contests between the arts and sciences; connections between poets; the significance of the relationship between the person and the objects in one’s surroundings.
His works have been widely exhibited in venues as diverse as Orkney, Los Angeles and Ecuador, and are represented in numerous collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Royal Photographic Society; Arnolfini Collection Trust; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Art Institute of Chicago; Tate Gallery; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Aberdeen Art Gallery; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; Deutsche Bank; The Scottish Parliament.
Calum Colvin was awarded an OBE in 2001 and was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 2005. He is Professor of Fine Art Photography at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee.
Photo Copyright the artist – Calum Colvin OBE RSA