Audrey Cruddas was born in Johannesberg and aged six arrived in England where she was to spend the rest of her life. Her artistic training began at the St John's Wood Art School and later she was admitted to the Academy Schools. Though primarily based in England, she lived and travelled widely in France, Spain and North Africa before the outbreak of the war.
At the beginning of the Second World War she went to work at her old school, Battle Abbey, which had been evacuated to Devon and subsequently worked as a land girl. She became seriously ill as a result of her work, and spent a year in Cornwall convalescing, during which time she produced her first theatre designs. She worked on many of these and in 1951 received the American Donaldson Award for best costume design of the season. In the course of her career she worked on numerous productions for Covent Garden, the Adelphi and Old Vic theatres in London and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Whilst living in Great Barfield in Essex in the 1950's Cruddas participated in the exhibitions there alongside Edward Bawden and Michael Rothenstein.