Nancy trained as an apprentice letterpress printer and typefounder with Barbarian Press in Canada and Woodside Press in New York, then worked in a number of letterpress studios in the US and the UK. Her recent work centres on a series of artist’s books in response to the coastal communities of northern Europe and the Arctic. She has also produced collaborative works with other artists, including Mette-Sofie D. Ambeck, Sarah Bodman and Roni Gross. Selected publications are listed below.
The Polar Tombola
The Polar Tombola is a public art intervention / live literature project which invites audiences to engage with issues of cultural and climate change. The Polar Tombola events and publication were supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.
Death of a Foster Son
Death of a Foster Son explores the uncanny point at which the lives of bears and humans meet. The text merges two Arctic stories: a contemporary encounter with a polar bear in Upernavik, Greenland, and a traditional Inuit folk tale.
proviso records an intervention in the 1927 edition of the Greenlandic–English Dictionary. It was published to coincide with the exhibition Nancy Campbell: Books and Printed Matter at the Small Publishers Fair 2015 in London.
Vantar | Missing
The Icelandic word ‘vantar’ refers both to a lost object or person and to the experience of loss. In Vantar | Missing a series of diptychs records mountain snow cover in Siglufjörður, a ghost town at the northernmost tip of the island.
Itoqqippoq means ‘washing line’ in Greenlandic. The narrative is created from a series of photographs of a frozen washing line observed in Ilulissat. Laundry is left out to freeze-dry all winter long in the Arctic, but these sheets were dancing in the wind – a sign of spring.
A sonnet on learning a new language, originally published in Modern Poetry in Translation as ‘The Hunter Teaches Me To Speak’, recast by Roni Gross and Peter Schell in a new, experimental setting.
‘Despite the relative isolation of Doverodde, there was always something happening to justify walking away from my studio for a few moments – a boat launch, a flower market, a disagreement between dogs. I began to collect notes about my daily experiences in the village…’
How to Say ‘I Love You’ in Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet
‘In this beautiful publication Campbell magically manages to evoke the icy North through the warmth and power of the Greenlandic language. Exquisite pochoir prints sit alongside hand-printed type – a perfect marriage between image and text.’ — Emma Stibbon RA
The Night Hunter
In an ambitious limited edition from Z’roah Press, Roni Gross and Peter Schell respond to Nancy Campbell’s poem ‘The Night Hunter’. This pantoum, a repetitive poetic form introduced to Europe from Malaysia by the French during the 18th century, was originally a sung form.
A collaboration with photographer Paula Naughton. The poems ask the same question that preoccupied early scientists: how can humans understand the invisible forces that have such a strong influence on their lives?
Dinner & A Rose
A collaboration with Sarah Bodman in homage to the novel The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Ripley’s character is defined by what he chooses to eat and drink, from devil-may-care martinis in Mongibello to penitential hot milk in Rome.
A version of Rimbaud’s ‘Le Bateau Ivre’, which has been translated as a rite of passage by so many poets and is a staple of independent publishing… short enough to print by hand, long enough to make a substantial pamphlet.
Yan Tan Tethera
‘Yan Tan Tethera’ is an ancient Cumbrian counting rhyme. It is still chanted by Borrowdale shepherds as they gather their flocks. Each time ‘jiggot’ is reached the shepherd pockets a stone to designate 20 sheep, and the recitation is repeated…
An Edifying Essay Upon Slugs
A parody of the amateur naturalism indulged in by the Victorians (Charles Kingsley et al), which pays homage to the phenomenal gastropods of the Pacific Northwest forests, where the book was printed. Illustrated with wood engravings by Abigail Rorer.
Photographs of Vantar | Missing, ITOQQIPPOQ and Boat Trip © Peter Abrahams