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Cressida Campbell’s Intimate Reflections, Ahead Of Melbourne Art Fair

Studio Visit

There is a line from philosopher Simon Weil that ‘attention is the rarest and purest form of love.’ For artist Cressida Campbell, this loving attention is captured in her iconic woodblock prints, through a slow and considered practice.

We chat with Cressida about the evolution of her practice, and the upcoming exhibition of her work at the Melbourne Art Fair with Sophie Gannon Gallery. She describes how she continues to ‘see a familiar world in new ways’ – and we can’t help but see everything around us in a more beautiful light, after viewing Cressida’s truly incredible work.

12th July, 2018

Cressida Campbell’s Sydney studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

The artist is known for her iconic woodblock prints. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

‘The slowness of my work is a necessary part of the process,’ tells Cressida. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Cressida’s unique process is a time-consuming labour of love. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Cressida’s ‘The Pool’ (2018) watercolour on incised plywood, 60x240cm to be exhibited at the Melbourne Art Fair. Photo – courtesy of Sophie Gannon Gallery.

The artist in her Bronte studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

An artwork nearing its final stages for the forthcoming fair. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Cressida’s supplies. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

The artist in her intriguing, inspiration-filled studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Still life props. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Studio details. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

Cressida’s artwork ‘Hallway with kilims’ (2017-18), watercolour on incised plywood, 120x80cm. Photo – courtesy the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane.

Cressida’s artwork ‘Otto on the stairs’ (2017-18), watercolour on incised plywood, 144x77cm. Photo – courtesy the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 12th July 2018

‘The slowness of my work is a necessary part of the process.’ – Cressida Campbell.

Cressida Campbell is renown for working with painstakingly detailed woodblocks to make her highly celebrated and collected original artworks. (Read here for some great insight into her practice!). Cressida explains her process as involving a singular pressing of her incised block, and then countless hours adding watercolour paint to that one single print. This is a time-consuming labour of love, but Cressida describes the process as ‘a language that suits my visual sense.’

In an age of the infinite scroll, where our attention is constantly jostled across multiple platforms – there is something incredibly refreshing in this – a process that celebrates the slow. Cressida explains that ‘the slowness of my work is a necessary part of the process.’ For her latest body of woodblock prints, the artist describes how her process has actually become even more laborious, becoming even more detailed and larger in scale than ever before.

For her upcoming Melbourne Art Fair exhibition, Cressida is presenting five new works – two unique woodblock prints, and three painted wood blocks. The pieces are a combination of distinctive intimate interior subjects from Cressida’s own living room, and new explorations into reflections on water. These exploratory ventures into capturing light and water are inspired by visits to a bamboo-lined swimming pool in Siem Riep, Cambodia. Cressida generously explained ‘I love Angkor Wat and find it incredibly beautiful and soothing. In the past six years, my husband Peter and my mother died, and I find it a wonderful place to visit both visually and emotionally.’ This affection, and sense of wonder is deftly communicated in the finished works.

Exhibiting at the Melbourne Art Fair has also afforded Cressida an opportunity to pursue new ideas and spatial considerations. The artist highlights how the fair offers ‘a challenge to try and create something that slightly stretches you, perhaps in a way that you may not normally do.’ For Cressida, this has entailed a new exploration of circular images, which has presented entirely new compositional challenges.

It barely seems possible, but Cressida’s latest works also offer a newly heightened level of detail. ‘I have been enlarging the subjects to make a small thing like a Maiden Hair Fern or a Dragonfly wing be examined in an intensely detailed way, that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.’ the artist explains. For Cressida, an engaged sense of attention enables the elevation of otherwise overlooked objects and moments. We are paying attention!

See Cressida Campbell’s work at Sophie Gannon Gallery, at the Melbourne Art Fair next month.

Melbourne Art Fair
August 2nd – 5th
Southbank Arts Precinct (alongside ACCA)
111 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006

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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.

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