Cadden, Delia


Delia Eleanor May Cadden, a china painter, was born in Ascot Vale, Victoria, 1884. She was the eldest of the six children of Robert William Cadden, a grain merchant and his wife, Fanny, nee Tuson. The family moved to Sydney, via Albury, in around 1899.

Delia studied freehand and model drawing at Sydney Technical College from 1902 to 1903. In about 1907-08 Delia Cadden studied china painting under J.A. Peach at the Sydney Technical College then continued her studies in the Art Department until about 1911.

As a student she exhibited in the 1907 Women’s Work Exhibition at Melbourne (though not listed in the catalogue of the Sydney preliminary exhibition). From about 1910 she had a studio in the family residence, Ravenshurst, in Beecroft Road, Beecroft, and between 1912 and 1917 exhibited with the NSW Society of Arts and Crafts.

Delia Cadden was a china painter of considerable ability. She decorated vases, tea and coffee sets, plates, wall plaques and buttons. She used motifs such as Australian and English garden flowers, peacocks and cranes, but excelled in cicada designs. These insects are characteristically depicted with raised pastework on the body and legs producing a rich and decorative cloisonné effect. Her later work shows the influence of Oriental art.

She died 30th December, 1917 aged 33 at her parent’s home in Beecroft.

Exhibitions of her Work:

Delia’s work was featured at an exhibition “All Fired Up” held by Mosman Library.

All Fired Up: The Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales: a survey exhibition 1908 – 1950.

All Fired Up celebrates the Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales, examining its impact on the development of the decorative arts in Australia in the early twentieth century.

Starting in Mosman in 1906 the society brought together like minded local crafts people with the idea of promoting Australian flora and fauna as design inspiration. The society grew rapidly and its exhibitions were major Sydney events.

All Fired Up featured pottery by some of Australia’s most significant art potters who had exhibited with the Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales between 1908 and 1950. This innovative exhibition celebrated the Society’s promotion of a unique tradition of Australian decorative arts of the early 20th century. Federation, and its new found spirit of Nationalism, combined with the design inspiration of Art Nouveau, the Arts & Crafts Movement, and later Art Deco, created a new art form based on Australian themes of native flora and fauna.

On view were rarely seen pieces by Merric Boyd, Grace Seccombe, William Ricketts, Philippa James, Ada Newman, Nell Holden, Olive Nock, Ernest Finlay, Delia Cadden, Muriel McDiarmid, Myrtle Innes, Edith Bell Brown, Eirene Mort, Marian Munday, Harry Lindeman, Violet Mace, Una Deerbon, Anna May Crouch, Katie Blomgren, Olive Moase, Jessie Newman, Nell McCredie, Vi Eyre, L. J. Harvey, Mary MacDonald, Clare Pitman and Ethel Warburton.

All Fired Up: The Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales: a survey exhibition 1908-1950 was on view from 6 – 10 May 2009 at Mosman Library, 605 Military Road, Mosman, Sydney.

Enquiries: or phone (02) 9978 4101.

Today, the Sydney Powerhouse Museum holds examples of her work.

Summer cicadas

This entry was posted on January 8, 2014 by Lynne McNairn. – See more at:

Sydney is currently enjoying a bumper cicada season. To me, these insects are a potent sound of summer and I enjoy their strident chorus building to a crescendo and then tapering off; the volume increasing with the heat. In a year like this everyone talks about them (not all in happy tones) and many children enjoy collecting both the insects and their discarded shells. The cicadas themselves enjoy friendly common names such as Green Grocer, Yellow Mundy and Black Prince. In spite of their fame, cicadas have not been a very common decorative motif in Australia. But there is always something in the Powerhouse Museum Collection!

This beautiful vase was hand painted and gilded in 1913 by Delia Cadden.  Delia was a talented china-painter. As described by Curator, Eva Czernis-Ryl ”She often included gum leaves, wattle and flannel flowers in her designs but her favourite motifs for porcelain decoration were Australian Green Grocer Cicadas (Cyclochila australasiae). Painted in various stages of flight or just crawling, their wings and segmented bodies glittering with heavy gilding, they seem to move slowly in a rhythmical dance around the bulbous shoulders of her selected squat vase. This vase features an additional frieze of stylised cicada heads around the neck. The vase itself is a porcelain blank made by L.Bernardaud & Co., Limoges, France, in about 1912″.

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Robyn Evans is a descendent of the Cadden family. The attached photos shows Robyn with some of Delia’s artwork that her family hold and a family photograph of Delia Eleanor Cadden