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Cressida Campbell


6th November, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 6th November 2013

The Sydney home of artist Cressida Campbell. Collection of small paintings, salon hung in the loungeroom.   Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Dining table in open plan living space.  Old Danish chairs and Indian Kilim rug.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Corner of living room, with Matisse Lithograph. This lithograph is a favourite of Cressida's, and came from a famous french magazine called Verve, published in the late 30's.  'Although a real lithograph it wasn't signed' says Cressida. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

More from Cressida's collection of small paintings, salon hung in the loungeroom.   Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bookshelves in loungeroom corner with black lacquer chair.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

As you will probably recall if you are a loyal daily reader (thankyou!), I recently had the incredible opportunity to meet one of Australia's most celebrated artists - Cressida Campbell.  Sean Fennessy and I had the great pleasure of photographing Cressida's workspace and home in Sydney’s Bronte a few months back - a wonderful morning spent chatting to Cressida, learning a little more about her life and work, and ambling around her amazing home taking this shots whilst she worked.  We ran the resulting interview, accompanied by Sean's studio shots back in September, and finally today we're sharing Cressida's beautiful home with you!

Cressida has lived in this beautiful timber Victorian home in Bronte for 12 years.  She shares the home with her tortoise shell cat Kinta, and a number of goldfish!  As we explained in our recent interview with Cressida, the past few years have been a difficult time, as she suffered the very sad loss of her husband Peter in 2011, after 29 years together.  Cressida is also quite a private person, and so we feel especially lucky to have had the opportunity to visit her home and capture a little of the magical world within!

As with so many homes of this era, when Cressida and Peter first purchased this home, at the time a modest timber cottage, it was in need of a little love. 'It was a kind of wreck, and clad in metal' Cressida recalls.  Peter took on the challenge of renovating the home as owner / builder, and the couple's  close friend, architect Espie Dods was their advisor.  'We changed nearly everything, but kept the front weatherboards and the proportion of two main bedrooms' explained Cressida.  Amongst the many improvements, the house was enlarged and opened up at the rear, French doors added to many of the rooms, the living room and kitchen clad internally with timber lining boards (we SO love a timber lining board around here...!), and a new Colour Bond roof was installed.  

Much of the inspiration for this renovation came from Cressida and Peter's previous home in Avalon.  Before purchasing their Bronte home, Cressida explains that she and Peter spent a couple of years living in a Walter Burley Griffin house on Sydney's northern beaches, and were very inspired by some of it's design.  Their treatment of the main living room here in Bronte was particularly influenced by their previous home, which had five narrow sets of French doors, divided by large cement sewer pipes.  'The pipes broke up the view, creating elongated glimpses of the bush, rather than a complete panoramic vista' explains Cressida, in a way that only an artist would!  'It felt more like a Japanese screen, in that the landscape was divided into beautiful details'.  Inspired by this simple effect, Cressida and Peter ensured that their new home retained solid sections of wall between the wooden french doors, rather than employing the usual wall to wall french door effect.  Their use of timber lining boards in the main living and dining room was planned to further enhance this division, highlighting the contrast of the interior walls against the busy garden view.

Cressida is a collector of many beautiful things, and is particularly fond of her art collection, and key pieces of furniture collected over the years. 'I have many favourite pieces collected since I was quite young' she says. 'The first thing I bought was an antique pine sea chest for $28.00 when I was 8 years old, to put curious treasures in.  I remember going on what seemed like a huge adventure over the Sydney harbour bridge to Paddington to an Antique shop to find a suitable treasure chest.  I had saved up very carefully for it in 1968'.  The second piece Cressida recalls collecting was when she was an art student, at the age of 16, and bought a beautiful New Guinean woven Mudman's Mask for $45.00, also in Paddington.   A slightly more recent, but no less treasured acquisition includes a Chinese Regency chair, made in Satin wood. 'It has curled arms that are very drawable, and I have put it in quite a few pictures over the years' says Cressida.

Aside from her many treasured possessions, loved for both their beauty and nostalgic appeal, being someone who spends long hours working from home, Cressida also greatly appreciates the simple, functional pleasures of her home - the tranquility here, and the convenience of her purpose built studio in the back garden. 'I use every part of the house,  nothing is not loved' says Cressida, in her typically endearing and matter of fact way!  'I am very lucky that it is usually very quiet, and apart from the charm of the house and the garden, my studio has very good light'.  She also loves her garden, which extends from the house up 13 steps to the elevated studio beyond, and feels almost like an extended room of the house.

HUGE thanks once again to Cressida for sharing her home with us, and responding to all our nosy questions so graciously, again!

Cressida Campbell is represented by Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne, Philip Bacon Galleries in Brisbane, and Olsen Irwin in Sydney.


Kitchen.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen shelf with Margaret Olley's striped jug.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Detail from Cressida's wall of salon hung artwork in the loungeroom. Portrait of a Pawnbroker painted by the artist Martin Sharp when he was 16 years, old among other pictures.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Aboriginal art in master bedroom.   Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Office, with Aboriginal bark painting and early Luke Sciberras painting.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Corner of bathroom with Wharf tile by Fairlie Kingston and Indian mirror.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Stone steps up to studio.  These salvaged steps have an interesting story!  'They were once at Lady Macquarie's Chair, at the Botanic Gardens Sydney' explains Cressida. 'They were replaced by new ones for the Bicentennial in 1988! We were lucky that there were exactly the right number, 13. We bought them from The Secondhand Sydney Sandstone Company in Sydney run by an interesting man called Harold'.  Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

1940's cane French chair on the verandah outside Cressida's studio. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Cressida's studio. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking down from the studio to the house. Photo - Sean Fennessy, production - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email