Important Australian and International Fine Art
28 November 2018


born 1960

watercolour on incised woodblock

111.0 x 87.0 cm

signed with initials lower right: CC

$75,000 – 95,000
Sold for $122,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 56 - 28 November 2018, Melbourne

Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane (label attached verso)
Private collection, Sydney


Cressida Campbell, Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, 14 November – 9 December 2000, cat. 1 (illus. in exhibition catalogue)


Crayford, P., (ed.), The Woodblock Painting of Cressida Campbell, Public Pictures Pty Ltd, 2008, cat. W0001, pp. 143 (illus.), 352

Catalogue text

Cressida Campbell is an intimist, steadily creating images of subtle poetic charm against continuous tides of brash and dogmatic contemporary art. Through a delicate orchestration of the grooves and furrows of an incised plywood block, and the chalky deposits of watercolour left on its surface, Campbell conjures images whose prosaic subject matter conceals their meticulous conception. These are testaments to the artist’s sophisticated visual intelligence and her humble appreciation for the small wonders of the world around her, this shared human experience delighting collectors the world over.

Gum Blossom, 2000 depicting a branch of a flowering eucalypt, is one such work, reaffirming in sumptuous colours and clear lines the resilient beauty of the ancient Australian landscape. Its elongated willow-like leaves are painted with silvery green, supported by madder stems and golden blossoms – a pale tonal palette typical of Australian flora. In spite of her profound respect for observable reality, Campbell’s images are more than recorded snapshots. These images are constructed and edited into harmonious panels, the intricacies of their design gradually revealing themselves to the viewer. With its imposing scale amplifying the clarity of her linear and tonal details, in Gum Blossom, Campbell transforms a simple section of a native tree into a captivating and immersive visual experience.

Campbell’s unusual printing technique also incorporates drawing, carving and painting. After incising her detailed drawing into a plywood block, the artist paints its design with water-soluble paints (although not necessarily in realistic colours), wets the block and then prints a single impression. Appreciating the mottled texture left behind in the negative image on the block, Campbell has been exhibiting these with the same reverence as her prints since the late 1980s. Gum Blossom was the largest amongst twenty-two woodblocks of the exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries, displaying simply and without pretence the free form beauty of Nature itself.

Decades practicing as a master printmaker employing the techniques of Japanese Ukiyo-e style have refined Campbell’s understanding of negative space and harmonious pictorial structure. In Gum Blossom, she creates a bold and balanced composition in isolating the graphic tangle of leaves, gumnuts and spent blooms, and presenting the form diagonally across the picture plane stark against a pale and empty background. This asymmetric and dynamic composition moderates the rigour of the artist’s meticulous academic naturalism and the picture’s shallow pictorial depth. Beyond her adoption of Ukiyo-e stylistic techniques, Campbell has also incorporated their philosophical approach into her still lives and landscapes – in various ways, they all express momentary worldly pleasures. Its elegant branch adorned with blossoms in various stages of bloom, Gum Blossom is a subtle and poised reminder of the fleeting pleasures of life.