Catherine O'Donnell at Fairfield Museum and Gallery

21 May to 6 August

» Exhibition Catalogue

My drawings are an exploration of the architecture; culture and history of the urban environment with a focus on the iconic 1960/70s architecture of the low income housing built around the middle of the 20th Century. At first glance the qualities of these utilitarian dwellings may not be evident as all too often these houses are not always given the same value as other housing and have become a cultural signifies of lower socioeconomic communities across Western Sydney.

I see the housing in these suburbs as full of connection and disconnection, sameness and difference; the structures I draw become signifiers of human existence, as well as memories, dreams and shared experiences. While my drawings may appear to be an attempt to make an objective representation of dwellings from Western Sydney housing, for me there is a deeper personal connection, which drives me to spend endless hours in the studio in an attempt to elevate these dwellings from the chaos of their surroundings, highlighting the abstract geometric qualities of the architecture, which I find so compelling.

Through my drawings I aim to extract both the sense of humanity that comes with the fact that people live in these buildings and the more formal aesthetics of these places. I employ realism as a catalyst to ignite the imagination of the viewer and invite them to look beyond the mundane and banal. To revisit these spaces imaginatively and find the aesthetic poetry embedded within the suburban landscape, while at the same time disrupting cultural prejudices which prevent people from seeing the underlying elegance of these simple buildings.

With this in mind The Drawn in Fairfield exhibition has focused my attention on the housing within the Fairfield LGA and for the first time has given me the opportunity to include interviews with the people who currently reside in these homes. The interviews were conducted with the help of Naomi McCarthy who invited the resident to share their experiences and memories of the house they live in. Some histories go back many years and others reflected on a shorter history, but all had their own unique story to tell about their time in their Fairfield homes.

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Catherine O'Donnell



409b George Street Waterloo NSW Australia 2017 
(02) 9318 1122   e:

Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm (Closed: Sun/Mon, Public Holidays, Easter long weekend and late Dec to early Feb)


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