On another cold, wet spring day in north London in April, I was on the phone with Campbell Addy. He was in Ghana, making a film about love. At the same time, he was being followed by a documentary crew for a six-part TV show on photography premiering in 2024, in which a whole episode is dedicated to his practice. “When I’m working, I don’t have to care about what I look like or say,” he says, laughing with the bustle of Accra in the background. “I’m so self-aware now.”
We’ve come to expect this openness from Addy, who, from day one, has used his influence and platform as a photographer to speak up about everything from mental health to industry bias. And yet, in I ♥ Campbell, his first solo exhibition at 180 Studios in London, we see him at his most vulnerable. The show reveals different parts of the artist, aesthetically and thematically, and confronts Addy’s personal experiences with breakups, abuse, psychosis, and religious indoctrination while celebrating his creativity, community, and success. “Vulnerability doesn’t have to be about sadness,” says Addy, who just turned 30, about the new work in the show. “I want to tell my story in the most unapologetic way.”
Inspired by his early days working on Nii Journal – the independent magazine celebrating Black culture that he started from his bedroom as a young graduate, where he was free to experiment and work across disciplines without expectation or judgement – the exhibition is an attempt to piece together lost fragments of his creative and personal history in order to construct a new future.
As you walk through the show – which unites his photography with film, drawing, painting, sound, and scent – we meet Addy at the start of a new chapter. What’s immediately apparent is that I ♥ Campbell is more than an affirmation for the artist. As he explains in our conversation below, it represents a state of mind that values love, care, and freedom of expression above all else.