watercolour and gouache on hand-incised woodblock (triptych)
60 x 120cm
Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, 1997 (label attached verso) Private collection, Hobart Menzies, Australian & International Fine Art & Sculpture, 21 September 2016, Melbourne, Lot 7 Justin Miller Art, Sydney
signed and dated 'Cressida Campbell 82' lower right
55.5 x 38cm
Fine Art, Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 22 March 2016, lot 30, illustrated;
Private Collection, Sydney, acquired from the above;
Important Australian Art, Sotheby’s Australia, Sydney, 20 Nov 2019, lot 5;
Private collection, Sydney
1980 saw Cressida Campbell travel to Japan to study at the Yoshida Hanga Academy in Tokyo where she refined her woodblocking and waterpainting techniques. This process, involving etchings on plywood, gentle layers of watercolour and a painstaking printing process lends her oeuvre a depth and refinement that brought her into the spotlight following her return to Sydney; she exhibited at the Hogarth Gallery in 1983 (where this particular work was on show), Stephen Mori Gallery in 1985 and Rex Irwin Art in 1989.
The art of Cressida Campbell is grounded in meticulous observation. An exceptional skill for capturing colour and texture, in exquisite and carefully considered compositions, lies at the heart of her work. “It is the distillation of the commonplace into timeless and life-sustaining compositions that is the character of her work.” 1
Tools of Trade is a rare and original hand-painted woodblock. The title speaks quite literally to its subject matter; these are the tools of the artist’s trade, arranged in a dynamic composition on a shadow board. Each has a vital use in Campbell’s intricate practice, an individual character and a time-worn patina. “Having resolved a design, it is then drawn with care and linear clarity on a sheet of plywood and the lines lightly carved. Almost like a cloisonné technique, water-based paints, often in several coats, are applied to the defined segments and the composition takes shape and acquires strong and colourful definition. Freshened with a spray of water, a single impression is taken and the result is a unique mirror image of the original painted woodblock.” 2
Born in 1960, Campbell studied at East Sydney Technical School, now the National Art School, and also the Yoshida Hanga Academy in Tokyo. Her works are held in the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the State Library of NSW, the British Museum and numerous Australian state and regional galleries.
In the words of art critic John McDonald: “What lifts her work beyond the plane of everyday observation are the transformations she enacts with colour, texture and composition. It is quite simply, the secret of individual creativity: that strange mixture of inner compulsion, therapy and free play of the imagination that brings the work of art into the world.” 3
1 Edmund Capon, The Woodblock Paintings of Cressida Campbell, p. 7, op sit