Art Collector’s Home: Award-Winning Still Life Artist Alicia Cornwell

After winning the Still Life Award in the Bluethumb Art Prize 2021 for her piece Turquoise Glass and the Harlequin Blanket, Alicia Cornwell and her vibrant still lifes have captured the attention of collectors globally. Based in Olinda, Victoria, Alicia works out of her studio in her 100-year-old home that sits atop the Dandenong ranges. Having previously worked as an Antiques and Vintage Dealer, Alicia has not only donned her walls with artwork, but has also mantled the shelves and corners of each room with antique ornaments.

Alicia Cornwell standing on the porch of her Olinda home

Alicia Cornwell standing outside her Olinda home. Image by Megan George.

Alicia Cornwell’s Home

Alicia lives with her husband, one of her three daughters, and their English Bull Terrier, Miss Ivy Pie, in what is now their second home in Olinda. Staying close to where she grew up, the family have lived in this “cozy and relaxed” home for 25 years now. “I grew up in a house with a magnificent panoramic view of Mount Dandenong. It’s always been a part of my life, I love the country feel of the area, yet it is only 45 minutes out of Melbourne. It’s a small vibrant community with an active art scene, I feel I have the best of both worlds!”

A bookshelf in Alicia's home full of antiqu and vintage items

Part of Alicia’s antiques collection. Image by Megan George.

Alicia’s home is one of the original homes in the Olinda area, built in the 1920s. “All the old houses up here have names and our grand old lady is called Greystanes,” Alicia reveals.

Surrounded by National Parks, Botanic Gardens and Melbourne’s flower-growing areas – including the Annual Tulip Festival – Alicia is continually inspired by the flourishing landscape of the colourful Dandenong Ranges.

Alicia's kitchen

Alicia’s favourite room in their home – the kitchen. Image by Megan George.

Working as an Antiques Dealer before plunging full-time into art, Alicia has filled her home with her favourite vintage items. “Not many of my interior pieces are brand new as they were all hunted down via estate auctions, garage sales and op shops. I must admit I still love treasure hunting but have to curb my collections these days unless it’s for a painting prop.” She says.

A wall in Alicia's home with artwork and antiques.

Some of Alicia’s art and antique collection, including art by Ben Tankard and Andria Beighton. Image by Megan George.

Alicia’s Art Collection

Turning to the art in her home, Alicia explains she has “…a bit of a rotating exhibition of my own work. I tend to display finished framed works until they sell and then put up another.” Always looking for her next creation, Alicia doesn’t hold onto her own pieces for very long. Accompanying her own artworks are Bluethumb artists Kirsty McIntyre, Pete Conroy, Ben Tankard, Andria Beighton, and Kate Gradwell. Alicia reveals that the most popular artwork with her guests – aside from her own – is Pete Conroy’s Tattoo Girl – Tribal Girl, pictured below. 

“I do tend to collect with an eye on both enjoyment and long-term investment if possible.”

A room in Alicia's home with artwork on the wall and furniture covered with antique items.

Some of Alicia’s collection including Pete Conroy artwork “Tattoo Girl – Tribal Girl.” Image by Megan George.

The many large windows douse the home in natural light, leaving little usable wall space for artwork. Because of this, Alicia tends to be attracted to smaller pieces, which are arranged with her antiques on walls and furniture. “Grouping them together creates more interest to the eye and some great talking points when people visit.”

 “I have a lovely collection and will definitely be collecting more, especially with Bluethumb’s variety of payment options!” 

Alicia's home studio

Alicia’s home studio. Image by Megan George.

The Studio

Alicia works from her in-house studio, in a large room underneath their carport. Alicia’s current series of artwork explores the juxtaposition of the native forests against the froth of introduced European flora. “It fascinates me how settlers felt it necessary to cut down all the Mountain Ash and tree ferns in the area and replace them with introduced European species in fenced parcels of land,” she explains.

Mount Dandenong was originally known as Corhanwarrabul and was the summer hunting place for the Bunurong and Woiworung peoples. “I would like to mention that I so very respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people, as the custodians of the land where I live and work. The presence of our first nations people is felt very strongly in our forests here.”

Alicia in her dining room. Image by Megan George.

Alicia’s Favourite Artwork

“It’s an original piece by William Beckwith McInnes. He was an artist in the early part of the 1900’s and won the Archibald prize seven times. It’s in its original frame and I found it at an op shop for $15. I had to stay very calm as I clutched it to my chest and walked to the check out.”

Alicia's living room.

Alicia’s living room. Image by Megan George.

Feeling inspired by the warm and cozy interior style of Alicia Cornwell? Shop her artist picks curation here. 

Or, take the tour of her home in our Instagram reel here.

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