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 Campbell ArtCressida’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.


Anita West loves Australian landscape and the Australian outback

Redland City Bulletin – July 20, 2015

Landscape Artist

Artist Anita West, of Birkdale, enjoys painting on large canvas and often works on two paintings at a time. Photo by Chris McCormack

ANITA West loves the Australian landscape and if it wasn’t for her love of art she would be working in the Australian outback.

A mid-career artist, Anita has had exhibitions in the Trevor Victor Art Gallery in Sydney since 2008 and at this year’s recent show every painting sold.

From a young age Anita knew she wanted to be an artist.

“I really thought I was going to choose art as a career in grade 10,” she said.

“My only other option was that I wanted to work on the land and that is why I paint landscapes, I think.

Her inspiration comes from the great Australian landscape.

“What I am trying to do is paint how I feel when I am in the bush,” she said.

“It’s the whole idea of getting out in the landscape and I think that there is something really fundamental that connects us back.

“I am not doing something that is entirely representational and not something that is entirely abstract.

“They are entirely invented. Even though I might go into a landscape and make lots of drawings of the different plants that are there, I come back to the studio and put it together in a way that suggests not just where the place is, but the mood of the place and the mood I am in while in that place.”

Anita said she often worked on two pieces at once.

“I will have one set up and I often work in pairs and if I can’t resolve a piece I will put it aside and work on another piece,” she said.

“For me the challenge is resolving a piece of work and bringing it to a conclusion.”

Some of her best work came from a mistake she made on the canvas.

“Most of them are built on mistakes,” she said.

“You have to be really conscious of the magic that happens when you make mistakes and then they don’t become mistakes anymore.”

Although her art has been a lifelong passion, Anita said it was important to pursue other passions.

In her spare time Anita took Latin, swing and zouk dance lessons at the Redlands Sporting Club and the Wellington Point Community Hall.

“I think it is important to get that distance because if you get too engrossed or buried in a passion it can become stale or you get too caught up in it,” she said.

Her dream would be to have an exhibition in a big public gallery, such as the Queensland Art Gallery, and her ultimate goal would be to have an art career that spanned a lifetime, like Margaret Olley’s.

By Way Of The Land

By way of the land: Salisbury Studios painter Anita West

An interview with Samantha Groenestyn

Bush Painting

Blueberry Ash © Anita West

Anita West has a very practical and grounded outlook as an artist. She brings a no-fuss, earthy and steady presence to the Atelier, a living example that making art can be a sensible and steady job—that with a little perseverance, a bit of application and time, one can find one’s place in the art world. Until recently taking a studio with Salisbury Studios, Anita worked alone, and her story is a fascinating one of independently developing her work and establishing a career without a community of artists around her. Anita ‘worked out her own salvation,’ taking chances, thinking on her feet and growing as a painter through these choices.

Anita came to art by way of the land. Her paintings—large and lively, with strong but lush colours, and layers of rippling textures raining down through native Australian trees—have their genesis in the hours she spent, blissfully alone, riding horses through the bush. These long and private meditations are echoed in her endlessly varied representations of the landscape. As a younger woman she worked as a Jillaroo and a strapper on sheep and cattle stations, and these firm ties to the land might account for her pragmatic attitude. ‘I live an ordinary life,’ Anita says simply.

Bush Paintings

Eucalypt Mist © Anita West

This self-awareness is fundamental to her success. Currently represented by Trevor Victor Harvey in Sydney’s well-to-do northern suburbs, Anita explains that she is aware of where her work sits in the market. People connect easily to her work, because her paintings are true to her self-proclaimed ordinary life. ‘People don’t buy what you do,’ she explains: ‘they buy why you do it. They want to be a part of that.’ Anita’s work is an honest, simple appreciation of her environment, a quiet celebration of her place in the world, and her market are those who are attracted to this genuine and comforting expression of life. But ever broad-minded, she assures me that she loves many different kinds of art: indeed, the Atelier coffee-table is ever freshly restocked with all manner of art magazine courtesy of Anita, keeping us all up to date with current happenings in the art world. She appreciates the different roles of art and relishes the extremities. She believes we need both public galleries with challenging and unsettling modern art and more accessible art to adorn our private spaces and speak to us more gently and express our own experiences. Knowing her own place in this schema allows her to direct her energies productively and profitably, without denying the merit of other types of work.

Having studied at an art college in Townsville, Anita’s trial-by-fire training came unexpectedly a number of years later. She found a small ad in the newspaper: an architectural and interior design firm on the Gold Coast was seeking original paintings for their properties. Anita describes the twinge she felt—as innocuous as the ad sounded, she was certain it could take her somewhere. But life, as it is wont to do, anti-climactically planted countless tiny obstacles in her path. The contact was never available to take her calls, and she was advised to call back again and again. Full of resolve, Anita continued to ask squarely whether the firm really did want to see her work, but the calls went nowhere. This back-and-forth went on for two months.

Unperturbed, Anita took to the road. One Saturday, she loaded a few paintings in the back of her car in Brisbane, drove to the Gold Coast, and by pure chance caught the woman she had been chasing just she was leaving the office. The lady inspected her wares in the boot of her car, nodded approvingly, and said, ‘Perfect. Make them bigger. Three times the size. Bring me two next week.’ On the wave of this momentum, Anita worked frantically all week—faster than she’d ever worked, on an entirely new scale, without time to plan—and met her unexpected deadline. Robertsons Design purchased the paintings immediately, and signed Anita up for a contract to paint them twenty to thirty paintings per year.

Landscape Paintings

Sheraton Commission 2 © Anita West

Twenty to thirty paintings a year! That’s one every two weeks! The next seven years were a period of immense growth through doing. Her new schedule forced her to adapt: She had to think quickly, plan less, and make most decisions during the painting process. Her life became a steady stream of paintings in progress, as she worked on several canvases at once and had to give them away quickly. She became serious about committing to the work itself, to the doing, and not fretting over the result of that work. There would always be more paintings, and more opportunities to puzzle over a problem, another chance to resolve it differently, another experiment. The refinement of her methods took place across countless paintings, rather than being slowly and painstakingly developed in a precious few.

Landscape Paintings

Mistletoe © Anita West

Anita now works in our midst, and her Salisbury studio has given her the space to adopt a new mindset. Being in and around the Atelier has invited Anita to slow down, to work more contemplatively, and to sit and look and reflect more deeply on a given painting. Confident in her methods and comfortable in her subject matter, Anita is permitted the luxury of savouring each painting and deliberating on it. And, alongside this change of pace, she finds herself enveloped in a community that thrives on ideas as much as practice. She recalls the ‘shock of Salisbury’ when she first moved in: all the impassioned discussion. Emerging from the bubble of pure practice, she initially found this cloud of ideas confronting but has come to relish the communion of minds. And we appreciate being able to learn from her humble and pragmatic wisdom.