A Rare Look Inside Craig Waddell's Converted Annandale Home And Studio
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the home and studio of painter and visual artist Craig Waddell.
As soon as you step foot inside Craig Waddell’s Annandale home, you know this space houses an artist—or two. Shared (created and decorated) with Jessie Cacchillo, Craig's partner and fellow artist, the converted warehouse was once a butchery—it’s heritage exterior remains—although you'd never guess, walking into the masterfully curated, light-filled space.
Throughout the home, Waddell’s aesthetic mirrors the brilliant fervour of his works, which hang from the walls throughout. Renowned for his thick, layered painting technique, the lauded Australian artist creates captivating works inspired by his childhood spent on his family’s fruit farm. His home, too, is bursting with nostalgia, as antique toys and vintage collectables line bookcases and shelves, and retro birthday cards stand on display.
Waddell’s home is full of feeling—behind every trinket, book, or dried flower is a story waiting to be told. As with his work, Waddell’s home is textured and rich, emboldened by an unexpected colour palette of red, grey and brown. In fact, the only neutral colour on show here is the white on the walls—but don’t worry, his iconic painted canvases cover most of that. Here, we catch up with the inspiring visual artist at his home and his studio, an 8-minute drive away in the neighbouring suburb of Leichhardt.
Hi Craig! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make paintings, sculptures, drawings and installations.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I have always been a very expressive person and love human movement. The work I make is an extension of my thoughts, feelings and a response to the natural world. Making comes more out of a necessity to respond to a situation or feeling, and objects and images are where I feel most able to express myself.
When did you start creating art and painting? And what inspired you to go down this route in your career?
I was always drawing and making things from a very young age, as long as I can remember. Painting came later when I went to the National Art School on the advice of a very dear friend. The first oil painting class I attended I instantly fell in love with the medium and knew I was hooked for life!
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
My subjects are always a reflection of the environment that I grew up in or have travelled to. I travel every year researching new material to work with and am very interested in the ceremonial aspect around death within different cultures.
Most of my work revolves around the theme of love, loss and longing and the way we as humans deal with these emotions both culturally and personally. After I’ve gathered all my new research I will head back into the studio and start to draw and re-draw over the same works daily.
These are usually mixed media works and very experimental. It is not always obvious where or what the next painting series will be, but through the drawing process an idea or entry point for painting will emerge. After that idea is solidified in my mind I then start the process of preparing for a series of paintings based around that experience. I also read a lot of Pablo Neruda’s poetry and this can also be the starting point for new works.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I have worked with several successful galleries over the last twenty years, entered countless art awards of which I've happily one a few, and applied for and thankfully received several scholarships and residencies. I feel the most crucial tool is to keep loving what you do and try to stay in the moment. Once you have created something that feels authentic and true I believe it will find its audience.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started as a professional artist?
The most challenging lesson I’ve learnt was not to have expectations outside the work. Feel good about what you have created and then learn to let it go without expectations of how it will be viewed or received. If you are creating for the wrong reason it will come back and bite you!
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Enjoy the challenge and create something wonderful that you wholeheartedly believe in. Your audience will find you if you create from a good place. Don’t be scared to ask for help or to reach out for advice from your peers. Always be open to learn and try to not make the same mistake twice, definitely not three times! I honestly believe most people want to help each other, so do your research and find the good people that will impart knowledge that will help kickstart your career or business.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your studio?
All the lovely people that come and visit! I’m so thankful to have a lovely big space to create in and one I can share with family, friends and art lovers.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
We have lived in our home for six years now.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
My framer was on this street and often I would park my car in front of it and wonder who lived there or if it was a commercial business. I knew it was the space for us when we were looking for a new home and our real estate agent showed it to me before it went up for sale. I just had a gut feeling it was the one!
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
After one year living in it, we decided to gut the whole inside and reconstruct the layout.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
We have a very organic approach to styling, often purchasing objects, rugs and small antiquities on our travels. I guess we want it to reflect a place that's well-lived in, warm space that invites light and love.
Being artists, we have naturally filled it with works we love of other artists, as well as Jessie’s work and mine. If we had more space we could probably fill another place with what’s in storage, it’s fair to say we love our art.
Tell us about your bedroom.
In our bedroom we created a lovely green wall as you look directly out, I spend time just resting and looking at the plants against the old brick wall—it’s very dreamy. I also love playing with our fur baby on the bed, he loves chewing up our socks. I am also a Netflix lover and am often over-committed to a series that I shouldn’t be watching in bed!
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Collect things that you love and feel will impact your life daily. Don’t fill it up with things just to look good or over-complicate the space, let it grow organically and acquire objects and create the style over time that reflects your interests. Fill your space with love and build a space that is warm and inviting. For me, artworks are the priority, so I will often acquire pieces I love and build the colour scheme of a room and vibe around the artwork.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I have a large survey show coming up early next year at Macquarie University. This show will represent works from the last ten years of my practice and be accompanied by a monograph. I am currently in several awards opening soon, Arthur Guy Memorial Award, Gosford Art Award and Doug Moran Portrait Prize semi-finalist.
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