Sean Patrick Campbell

Swollen Utopia

Sean Patrick Campbell

Sept 4 – Sept 25

Thurso Art Gallery

Davidson’s Lane
Thurso , Caithness KW14 7AF

Swollen Utopia – Sean Patrick Campbell

“The idea of a ‘home town’ is a swollen utopia of childhood memory fragments. It’s something like the original landscape”

Daido Moriyama

Inspired heavily by a quote from Daido Moriyama that accompanies his photobook ‘Tales of Tono’, since 2015 I have been photographing my own original landscape, the coastal district of Inverclyde on the west of Scotland, itself a place of myths, contradictions, of beauty and lack. Ghosts, demons and heathen folktales sit awkwardly alongside severe wealth inequality and Christian sectarian tensions. 

The landscape of Inverclyde occupies layered and difficult political spaces. It was at the heart of Scotland’s complicity in the slave trade, due to it’s location as an Atlantic gateway to Glasgow and beyond. James Watt, father of the commercial steam engine, critical agitator of the industrial revolution and lynchpin of modern capitalism was born in Greenock, and his presence is memorialised throughout – including a Wetherspoons pub bearing his name.

Inverclyde’s thriving shipbuilding industry was decimated by Thatcherite policies – and this End of History repeated through neoliberalism when its tech empire saw the same fate in the 90s and 00s. In addition, Inverclyde sits on the banks of the River Clyde opposite the mouth of Gare Loch, where the Faslane missile base holds the UKs stockpile of Trident nuclear missiles.

My original landscape is a place of weirdness, of loss, the death of possible futures and sometimes a glimpse into Somewhere Else. It is, and will always be, home. However it is not just a localised place of personal trauma, but also a part of a bigger world, one of imbalanced power structures, privileges and oppressions. This leads me to a question at the heart of my practice – as artists, how do we navigate the personal through the political?


Sean Patrick Campbell (b. 1985, Greenock) is an artist and musician living and working in Glasgow. Graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2019, his practice uses photography to enter into a dialogue between ecologies of landscape & mythology – personal, cultural, political. His work spills out into rituals of text, sculpture and moving image; these are the interlocking parts of his inquiry into the physical and psychic structures that build Worlds. He is always looking for ghosts – of hidden pasts, lost futures and the ever-haunted present. 

Recent exhibitions include ‘TULPA’, a collaborative show at Bloc Projects in Sheffield with artist Allan Gardner, ‘Imagining an Island’, a group show at Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist & ‘Bodies for scale’, a group show at Goodyear Arts in North Carolina, USA. He is one of the selected artists in the Hospitalfield Graduate Programme 2021-22.