THE late Reg Campbell, who died recently aged 85, was one of Australia’s most famous self-taught artists.
Born in the Sydney suburb of Gladesville in 1943 he lived much of his life in a peaceful rural setting off Sunny Corner Road, Kirkconnell where he established his gallery and completed some of his most accomplished portraits, some that will hold places of honour in Bathurst for years to come.
Mr Campbell’s son, Joshua, said in an eulogy delivered at his father’s funeral that “he was a self-taught master painter, the most amazing realist work I have seen.”
Some of those works include the portraits of two of Bathurst’s best-known faces, those of the late Dr Brooke-Moore and former Member for Bathurst, the late Gus Kelly, whose portraits have hung for years in the foyer of the Bathurst Civic Centre.
Lesser-known works are the portraits that Mr Campbell painted of two other personalities of his generation, a young radio broadcaster John Laws, who became the most famous voice on Australian radio until his retirement last year and the television games show personality, Bob Dyer of Pick-A-Box fame.
Both portraits are part of a private collection owned by Grahame Spurway and hang in his Bathurst Heritage Motel.
One of the largest works painted by Mr Campbell was commissioned by Bathurst Rotary to celebrate the 100th Royal Bathurst Show, a massive painting of the Bathurst Showground showing all of the historic buildings with parachutists landing in the ground. The painting still adorns the wall in one of the pavilions at the Showground
“My father in his younger days was a very hard-working man who wouldn’t stop until the job was done,” Joshua recalled. “I discovered that he was a very compassionate and kind person. I learned that the most important thing that he had was us, his family.
“He told me often he was really proud of what we have become. We are who we are now because we had a father like him. As most [people] would know my father never showed his feelings whilst growing up. You would only see that look that told you you did something great, and seeing him like that made you feel like you owned the world.”
“In my eyes I think that dad gave me the most amazing upbringing. He was loved and respected by all who knew him. To his friends he was a very kind person and was always ready to help. He always had a solution to every problem and had his ways of making things simple.”
The late Mr Campbell is survived by Betty-Ann, Eden, David, Joshua Campbell, Stephen and Katie Scott.