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Campbell Ivins

Art that agitates

Victor Compton

Campbell Ivins’s art provokes a response. And not because it tackles hot-button topics like white privilege and toxic masculinity. His treatment of these sensitive subjects reveals more about the Grade 12 learner than his obvious artistic talent. They speak of a pensive and sensitive young man with high ideals and empathy for those who suffer.

Campbell’s “The In-vis-able” piece, in charcoal and chalk pastel, shows a bare-chested black boy wearing a crown and wings. While the boy is angelic and innocent, the work is dark and dramatic, lamenting how poverty limits opportunity and stifles dreams.

In another of his works, superimposing a sketch of Campbell’s nude body is a speech by American author James F Clarke entitled “True Manliness”. In it, the author says, “True manliness is humane… tender and loving. False manliness is unfeeling, with no kindly sympathies, rude and rough and overbearing.”

Campbell says he has grown in his understanding of the harmful effects of toxic masculinity or “false manliness”. In an all-boys’ school, he says it can find expression in “the suppression of emotion” for fear of being seen as weak. “It’s what society has told us growing up. Like boys don’t cry.”

The man who has made the greatest impact on Campbell’s life is his father, Jeremy, who works in IT. “He has worked really hard for me to come to Hilton College. His relentlessness to get stuff done is inspiring.”

Describing his dad as “quite a character”, he says he “has a lot of friends and is always up for a challenge”.

His mom Lindsey, an events organizer, is “very outgoing”, he says. “If we don’t come across someone she’s friends with in a shopping mall, it’s surprising. She’s very bubbly.”

Clearly, he gets his affability and love of people from his parents.

Next year Campbell wants to study commerce or business science at the University of Stellenbosch.

“For a long time, I’ve wanted to go into business. The only thing that has changed is I would like to include art in my plans. I want to deal in art.”

With business acumen under his belt, Campbell will reach a wider audience with his art and he will challenge and change the world.