Cressida Campbell’s exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia cements the underrated Australian artist’s place in the canon

A wall-like painting of an ornate kitchen shelf envelops the entrance to the National Gallery of Australia’s latest exhibition.

In it, a number of household objects are celebrated with extraordinary precision: a leek leans against a blue-and-white ceramic vessel, black kitchen scissors protrude from a white milk jug, a sprig of lavender rests idly.

The more you look, the more you see.

The mural is an enlarged version of Australian contemporary artist Cressida Campbell’s 2009 woodcut painting The Kitchen Shelf – lovingly recreated here by her husband, Warren Macris, who is a fine art and photographic printer and took over 100 photographs of the original for the mural Has .

The exhibition, which opens on Saturday, is a major retrospective of Campbell’s work, featuring more than 140 of her woodcuts and woodcut prints.

At 62, Campbell has been making art for more than 40 years, and in sales alone she is one of Australia’s most successful and sought-after artists (her commercial shows usually sell out, often before they open) – but this is the first time a retrospective of this magnitude has been held shown by a major Australian gallery.

In March and again in August, one of Campbell’s wooden sticks sold for $515,455 – the highest price for a work by a living Australian artist.(Scope of delivery: NGA)

It’s also the first time the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) has programmed a living Australian artist for its blockbuster summer exhibition – a space normally reserved for well-known international artists (think: Picasso).

“[Campbell] is a very established artist and we believe she has brought something very unique to the cultural tapestry of Australian art,” NGA Director Nick Mitzevich told ABC Arts.

“She is at the peak of her powers and we want to celebrate that.”

Curated thematically across six rooms, the exhibition is autobiographical, featuring intimate domestic scenes, cityscapes and landscapes from the places Campbell lived, and even childhood drawings.

“It’s a bit like a documentary but in color,” the artist told ABC News.

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