Words by Lula Criado (Twitter @Lula_ClotMag)
I met Cressida Bell at her studio in the heart of Hackney, East London. A small bell and a big red door there are indications of the influence and the heritage of the Bloomsbury Group – her grandmother was the artist Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and her father was the writer and critic Quentin Bell.
Cressida is an artist specializing in textiles and interiors. Rugs, carpets, murals, lamps and cards surround her studio but my attention was caught by her amazing book “Cressida Bell’s Cake Design: Fifty Fabulous Cakes”. Fifty amazing and easy-to-reproduce design cakes. Cressida Bell has not invented anything new but, she has done something better and more innovative, she has conceptualized sugar crafting with elegance and refinement.
Sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are involved in the act of consuming food but, when you see Cressida’s cakes? Your first sense involved is not taste but sight. You don’t want to eat them you want to admire them and, of course photograph them!
What do you see as the ultimate discovery in the human history?
Probably that the world isn’t flat. Is that a good enough answer? I guess it’s because I have a horizon in the picture I’m working on and it made me think about that. But this machine (computer) is a major thing in everyone’s life, it’s quite interesting because my generation weren’t brought up with it and I’m amazed.
If you’ve had asked me maybe in 1990, wether I’ll be doing stuff on a computer I would have said, no way. All this computer revolution is absolutely a massive thing.
Do you find creativity where there was once insanity?
No, I don’t think, I’m a very stable sort of person, I don’t think I’m the creative “type”. I don’t think I ever had an insane moment in my life. I am creative but I don’t fit the stereotype of creative. I am organised, I work really hard, I’m creative to order.
If you would have to give up one of your five senses, which one would it be and why?
You think that hearing would be probably the easiest, but I do know that from speaking to very elderly people who lost their hearing, they say at that point in your life it makes you incredibly lonely.
Whereas not being able to see you can manage but you can’t listen to your friends, you can’t hear music, but that is at that point in your life but right now I can’t imagine losing my sight. I would probably go for smell, but that affects your sense of taste so it’s pretty bad as well.
Empathy and apathy… Would you be able to work with someone like yourself?
Yes, I like people who are quite like me. I am drawn to people that have a similar disposition, that are quite bossy, quite tough. I like people who know what they think and say it, with similar interests.
How do you cope with creative desperation?
I work through it. If it’s not right you just keep on and work until I get it right.
And one for the ride, when do you decide that enough is enough?
Not very easily. I’m not a workaholic, but it’s really hard to stop. I just have to tell myself that no one is going to see that little spot in the corner and not be obsessive compulsive.