Cressida Campbell is considered to be one of the most celebrated artists in Australia. Born in Sydney in 1960, her woodblock prints have become some of the country’s most collected and are held in many international galleries and museums including the National Gallery of Australia and the British Museum. Cressida is currently represented by Philip Bacon Galleries in Brisbane and Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne.
Her interest in painting and drawing started from an early age. At 16, Cressida studied painting at the National Art School (formerly called Sydney Technical College in East Sydney) and has been working as a full-time artist ever since. Whilst there, she began experimenting with woodblock printing and started using the single painted block technique that she has lovingly developed into her signature mono prints.
She currently works at her home studio in Bronte, Sydney, just 13 sandstone steps away from her house. And much of the subject matter of her work can be found not far away. The native Australian bush nestled in the cliffs of Sydney harbour and the views looking out to the bay often feature in her prints.
Cressida’s artworks depict scenes from the real world, scenes we see in our day-to-day lives, such as simple still lifes, detailed domestic interiors and familiar Australian landscapes. Her process is a strenuous one which involves an innovative technique that combines painting and printing. The results are two one-of-a-kind artworks – a woodblock print on paper and a single-painted and engraved woodblock. Cressida has visited and worked with master Japanese artisans and her work is infused with a decorative quality and simple strong design that takes inspiration from the ancient Japanese art of woodblock printing.
She starts each piece by drawing the details on the board. The linework is then engraved to make a single-use woodblock. Thick layers of watercolour are then painted meticulously onto the block, filling in the carved line drawing. Once this process is done, the board will then be dampened with water and then used to create a single print on paper. This technique is notoriously labour-intensive which reduces the output and therefore commands high prices.