Norman Campbell has lived in Alaska since 1882, where its lands, shorelines and trees are a constant source of inspiration for his artwork. He works primarily with pen and ink on paper, adding splashes of color with watercolors and colored pencils.
In July 2021, Norm Campbell and Stephen Lawrie arrived by floatplane to SCS's Sea Pony Farm Property. As they unloaded on the beach, they were greeted by sunshine and beautiful weather – something that is, as Norm joked, “almost unheard of in Southeast Alaska.” This good weather stayed with them for the first four days of their residency, allowing them to make artwork both inside and outside of the homestead.
Norm spent much of these first four days outside drawing trees. “It’s not a new thing for anyone who knows me,” says Norm, “but these trees were special. There was this group of spruce trees adjacent to the property. They were beautiful, solid, healthy trees with some redness that I don't remember seeing in a lot of other spruce trees.”
A few months after their return from Sea Pony Farm, Norm and Steve presented and showcased their paintings, drawings, and experiences at the Island Artist Gallery. They also gave an artists talk hosted by the gallery in partnership with SCS. As the fall days were gradually turning to winter, there was a bustle of light, laughter, and warmth coming from downtown Sitka, where locals and visitors could stop at the gallery, see the West Chichagof- Yakobi Wilderness in the art it inspired, and learn about the legacy of Pam and Eric Bealer’s homestead.
“This was a pivotal art experience for me, and for Steve as well,” reflects Norm. “The physical beauty of this place was the thing that moved me the most. Being immersed in that physical environment in a way that you can't quite be when you're in a studio.”
Connecting people with the Tongass has long been an important part of the Sitka Conservation Society: our founders used to guide people to West Chichagof and then sent them back home to advocate to their Congress members to make it a Wilderness. Their success taught us that firsthand experiences like the ones Norm and Steve had in the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness create lasting impacts that not only inspire the people we connect with these places, but also those who they share their experiences with. In the past two years, we have successfully hosted sixteen different artists and changemakers at the Sea Pony Farm property. We are grateful to all who have helped make these residencies happen, as well as those who have made generous contributions to the Living Wilderness Fund and helped make this project possible. And especially, a humble and heartfelt thank you to Eric and Pam Bealer, who left this property to us to continue to advocate for the places they loved.
Interested in supporting an artist at our creative retreat? You can donate here.