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Reinventing Watercolour

Cressida Campbell, Self portrait, watercolour, copyright Cressida Campbell 2022

It's rare these days to be surprised by an exhibition of watercolour paintings, but I've just come back from Canberra with a revelation to share. The painter is Cressida Campbell and she has a huge exhibition on at the National Gallery of Australia which runs until 19 February 2023. Not only is the scale of her work large, she also works on plywood, first incising a drawing with a nail and then meticulously painting in layers of watercolour used opaquely. Board and paper are then dampened and a print is taken, using the time-honoured method of burnishing with a spoon. Campbell has developed this technique over many years; she makes a unique print and exhibits the painted plywood as an artwork of equal significance, sometimes together as mirror images. I fell in love with these works, especially the surface of the painted plywood which has a patina like a quattrocento fresco. It's a brilliant and virtuoso show ... don't miss it!

Cressida Campbell, The studio, watercolour, copyright Cressida Campbell 2022

Tools of the trade. She uses Cotman watercolour in tubes and a lot of white, copyright Cressida Campbell 2022

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