Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 August 2019


born 1960

watercolour on incised woodblock

62.0 x 122.5 cm

signed lower right: Cressida Campbell

$75,000 – 95,000
Sold for $231,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 58 - 28 August 2019, Sydney

Nevill Keating Pictures, London
Private collection, Sydney, acquired from the above in 2001


Cressida Campbell: Recent Paintings, Nevill Keating Pictures, London, 6 – 27 July 2001, cat. 1 (illus. in exhibition catalogue, as ‘Eucalyptus Forest’)


Crayford, P., (ed.), The Woodblock Painting of Cressida Campbell, Public Pictures Pty Ltd, Sydney, 2008, cat. W0002, p. 352

Catalogue text

The late Nick Waterlow, the esteemed art historian, wrote in the introduction of Cressida Campbell’s first solo exhibition at Nevill Keating Pictures in London that her distinctive artworks ‘provide constant reminders of the unique wonders of nature in this ancient continent’ and ‘a wonderfully refreshing antidote to all those forces that want to separate us from our surrounding environment’.1 Cressida Campbell’s incised and hand-painted woodblock, Eucalypt Forest, 2000 is immersive and calming, an awe-inspiring glimpse into one of Australia’s primeval landscapes.

Drawn from life, Eucalypt Forest is the crown jewel in a suite of works created from the view of the sub-tropical bush around the Stella James House in Avalon, on Sydney’s Northern beaches. The artist and her husband, Peter Crayford, lived in this heritage-listed Walter Burley Griffin house over the summer of 1999-2000, and its vast surrounding area of pristine open native forest appears in several woodblocks and prints of these years, often featuring a combination of Pittwater’s distinctive eucalypts and Cabbage Palms. Tightly cropped and framed in the lower corners by fanned palm leaves, the composition of Eucalypt Forest is dominated by the strong vertical lines of the trunks of these gum trees, which tower way beyond the limits of our vision. In the foreground, an elegant sapling stretches its spindly branches across the width of the plywood block, welcoming the viewer into the composition and drawing the eye delicately throughout its dense bush, amongst the trunks, leaves and into the shifting mist beyond.

Campbell’s view of this eucalypt forest is wide and undivided. The colours here are stronger and brighter than in its printed related work, hinting at the vibrant health of this preserved ecosystem. The artist’s unusual and painstaking practice of painting her woodblocks with watercolour, using a technique similar to cloisonné, lends a chalky, mottled texture to both finished artworks. In Eucalypt Forest, the inconsistencies and velvety textures left on the block’s surface after the printing process, provide a tactile evocation of the peeling bark and rough surfaces of its subject matter. The simplified forms of tree trunks beneath the canopy dissolve into the damp and shady depths of the forest, keeping a sense of mystery within its detailed naturalism. Campbell’s prints and blocks display a fragment of her reality, laying clues within the delicate symbolism of her compositions to hint at what lies beyond the frame. With reverence, Campbell translates the ancient grandeur of Australia’s native flora, and in evoking its unique beauty, silently entreats the viewer for its continuing respect and preservation.

1. Waterlow, N., Cressida Campbell Recent Paintings, Nevill Keating Pictures, London, 2001