This weekend I finally managed to make it to see the feted exhibition by contemporary Australian artist Cressida Campbell at the National Gallery. I left it to the end of the exhibition run in the hopes that the crowds would be smaller. After a couple of false starts I managed to get a ticket on the final weekend. It seems many other people had the same idea!
I hadn’t seen any of Campbell’s work other than the images in the marketing materials, but several friends had been to the exhibition multiple times and raved about how wonderful it was. So I was looking forward to it.
This is the largest single artist exhibition that I have ever seen, she is prolific! Something like 140 works were on display, covering a number of themes. I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.
This piece was my absolute favourite! The cat on the stairs captured my heart. Of course!
I loved the shapes made within the roots and foliage on this narrow piece. And the glass is wonderful.
I love watching boats, and these ones made me smile. They brought back memories of watching the boats and ships come and go for hours in Victoria Harbour when we visited Hong Kong a couple of years ago, the the before times. Before COVID kicked in in a real way.
The soothing colours and water captured my attention in this scene. I stood there and let it wash over me for ages. What is it about water that is so relaxing? Even in paintings.
Campbell’s self-portrait. Love the hair! Curly hair is so hard to paint well!
Campbell uses a unique hybrid technique where she inscribes her drawing onto plywood and then paints with watercolour and prints from the incised wood block. I have never seen anything like it! In the photograph above you can see the inscribed outlines.
I was super excited when I came to the end of the galleries and discovered a huge drawing station! The large table dominated the room and the central area was arranged with beautiful ceramics and foliage, and paper and pencils placed around the table for anyone who wished to sit and have a go.
I whipped out my tiny little emergency handbag sketch kit and got to work.
I sat there and enjoyed sketching for about an hour. In that time several people came and went in the seats to my left. One young couple amused me. They each selected a group of jars and pots they wished to sketch and then proceeded to turn it into a competition, chattering and bantering the whole time. I had to smile, but I did wish they simply enjoyed the process and supported each other. Nonetheless…they were sketching! So all good. Another pair were young tween brothers who decided to draw cartoon characters instead and were having a ball.
I was lucky not to be yelled at and ejected for using watercolour in the gallery…usually it’s dry materials only.
This is the first art exhibition I have been to in years and I wanted to capture the feel of all the people in the space. It felt crowded to me having not ventured out much in the last couple of years, but I have seen it busier at past exhibitions. I did this spread from a photo when I got home. I wasn’t bold enough to sit and sketch in the presence of greatness and with moving people!