painter, etcher, wood-carver and pyrographer, was born on the family’s remote cattle property, Kilburnie, outside Biloela, Queensland. As well as executing art and craft works, she was a successful pastoralist. Except for her schooling at the Range Convent, Rockhampton – which included art subjects – and a brief period at Melbourne in the early 1920s, she spent her entire life at Kilburnie. Her parents employed a Scots tutor, Walter Pasley, for their children and although he died two years before Ruby and her twin sister Beryl were born, the paintings and drawings he left behind inspired Ruby’s interest in art. In 1915 she received a diploma in commercial art by correspondence from the School of Applied Arts, Battle Creek, Michigan (USA).

Ruby Campbell probably learned the crafts of pokerwork, marquetry staining and carving at Melbourne, where she studied at an art school (possibly the Working Men’s College) for about six months when visiting a married sister. This experience, together with rudimentary cabinet-making skills learned from a station carpenter, led to the production of a substantial collection of decorated furniture for the homestead. Her sister Beryl assisted her in these projects.

During the 1930s she corresponded with John Shirlow in Melbourne, who praised the quality of her etching plates to his classes and who pulled prints for her. A broken leg in 1959, at the age of 70, saw the end of active stock work, and the employment of a manager gave her the time to take up art more actively. 40 of her watercolour and pencil drawings were included in an exhibition at the Rockhampton Art Gallery in January 1972.

Cooke, Glenn R.
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