The Transylvania Times -

Rediscovered Diorama On Display

 

June 17, 2019

Country Creations Antiques Florist and Gifts recently received a unique art piece in one of its antique vendor's stalls, with a newspaper clipping from a 1978 edition of The Transylvania Times attached.

The art piece is a diorama of an old country store created by then Brevard resident Norma DeCamp, who had just then begun her artistic career.

A diorama is a model creating a scene with three-dimensional figures.

Now at the age of 84, DeCamp is enjoying retirement in the Dominican Republic after years of making toys and displays for celebrities and museums across the world.

Although DeCamp moved away from Transylvania County, she's moved back and forth between the Caribbean and Western North Carolina for decades.

"It's been an incredibly amazing journey," said David DeCamp, her son and business and creative partner for several years. "She has a gift that is extremely rare. Princess Di, Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, are just a few of the celebrities who have collected her works. It's been quite an amazing journey."

In the early days, David said he helped his mother in her workshop in the mountains between Cherokee and Asheville. After briefly working on diorama miniature creations, DeCamp went on to make old-time Santa dolls out of antique materials.

They have since become collectables in many circles, according to David.

DeCamp's work has been featured in museums, displays and movies around the world. A few of her many credits include: The Biltmore House in Asheville, The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., a display in The Rockefeller Center in New York City, the movie "Home Alone," The Atlanta Toy and Doll Museum and The John Phillip Sousa House in Sands Point, N.Y.

According to David, DeCamp's pieces caught the attention of several celebrities.

Princess Diana collected many pieces, Winfrey purchased one of DeCamp's black Santas and Tom Cruise purchased a piece for his then wife, Nicole Kidman, while he was working on a movie in Charlotte.

Recently, local antique pickers Laurie and Keith Mullenax spotted one of DeCamp's dioramas titled "Country Store" in one of their colleague's collections and knew immediately that it was a unique piece of art.

In 1978, Transylvania Times reporter Gay White wrote, "The diorama is very difficult to explain, and one really must see it first-hand in order to experience the beauty of the creation."

And while modern cameras are able to catch more of the piece's details, it really is too intricate to capture in a photograph.

"Every time we have looked at it, we see something new. There's so much to take in," said Laurie of the diorama.

For those wishing to view the diorama in person, the piece is displayed for sale at Country Creations Antiques Florist and Gifts at 398 S. Broad St. in Brevard, along with the original 1978 newspaper clipping. The article features photos of "Country Store" being worked on in DeCamp's workshop.

DeCamp still regularly creates art at her home workshop in the Dominican Republic and enjoys tending to her garden and caring for animals on her ocean-side farm. David now lives in the Turks and Caicos, where he spends his time working on his various charity, building, art and holistic medicine projects.

 
 

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