CURRENT Exhibitions

Hardenvale - our home in absurdia, at National Art School

- collaborative multimedia exhibition by Todd Fuller, Catherine O'Donnell, Kelly O'Dempsey, 2019

28 March to 20 April

Hardenvale – our home in Absurdia is a real-scale, immersive, house-like environment by Australian artists Catherine O'Donnell, Kellie O'Dempsey and Todd Fuller. Through drawing, projection, built form, sound and movement, this collaborative project references the architecture of 1960s Western Sydney Government housing as well as spaces the group describe as 'the cultural fringe of Australia'. Crossing three generations, these artists’ re-imagine lived domestic space while expanding the practice of drawing to create an intimate and unsettling experience. Harvesting images from personal narratives of imperfect moments (both familiar and strange), Hardenvale is a humble dwelling made from drawing in which to spend, loose or ind time. This installation invites visitors to reflect on their own experiences and memories of home.

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Dobell Drawing Prize 2019

Featuring Catherine O'Donnell, Peta Minnici, Alex Karaconji, Jenny Orchard

28 March to 25 May 2019

The Dobell Drawing Prize is a new biennial prize and exhibition presented by the National Art School in association with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation. The Prize is an open call to all artists and aims to explore the enduring importance of drawing and the breadth and dynamism of contemporary approaches to drawing.

The exhibition showcases the finalists’ artworks across a broad range of media that acknowledges the foundational principals of drawing, while also encouraging challenging and expansive approaches to drawing. Submissions are invited for artworks on paper, but may also include wall drawings and larger-scale works and works utilising electronic media.

National Art School envisions the Prize as a platform for the celebration and examination of current drawing practices. The Prize builds on the energy of both emerging artists who make art through drawing, while also celebrating innovation and technical skill of experienced artists.

The new Dobell Drawing Prize is an acquisitive art award that runs in alternative years to the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, affirming the Dobell Foundation’s commitment to continuing the development of drawing as a medium in its own right, and a fundamental element of the visual arts.

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Our Common Bond - curated by Olivia Welch

Featuring Duha Ali, Atong Atem, Lara Chamas, Dean Cross, Amala Groom, Pamela Leung, Jason Phu, Siying Zhou

10 April to 5 May

Our Common Bond takes its title from the Australian Citizenship Test booklet, which outlines what it means to be an Australian: the responsibilities and opportunities it affords you, the history you are inheriting, the culture you will be welcomed into, and the rules and regulations you must abide by. “Australia successfully combines ethnic and cultural diversity with national unity. Citizenship is the bond that unites us all.”- p.3 

This booklet opens Australia's arms to people of every culture, religion and ethnicity. However, its language also contributes to Australia’s cultural amnesia when referring to the treatment of First Nations peoples and migrants, and the effects of colonisation. It celebrates the many positives, but brushes over the negatives as follies of the past that no longer bear scars. It identifies certain days, behaviours and beliefs as being "Australian", even though many Australians would not agree that these ideas and events represent them. 

This exhibition uses this booklet as a starting point to discuss Australia’s history and current attitudes towards the country’s diverse population, as well as examining what is meant by "Australian" culture and values.

Artists: Duha Ali, Atong Atem, Lara Chamas, Dean Cross, Amala Groom, Pamela Leung, Jason Phu, Siying Zhou

(Image: Dean Cross, PolyAustralis #29 (Rolf Harris) 2016, archival inkjet print on cotton rag, 59.4 x 84.1cm, edition 5 + 2AP)

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Fibro Façade

An Installation by Catherine O'Donnell

16 April - 1 June 2019

Fibro Façade is an installation comprising eleven meticulous charcoal drawings of elements from common fibro housing and an architectural tape outline connecting them. 

Catherine O’Donnell leaves the screen door ajar, pulls back the curtain, opens the window and shows the uneven lines of the venetian blinds to reveal that her renderings are equally about the occupants as they are about the structures that they call home.

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Todd Fuller @ Batch Festival

26 April to 11 May

A participatory artwork surveying a range of responses to same-sex love and marriage equality. Members of the public are encouraged to respond to a drawing depicting two men engaged in a passionate kiss, by colouring in the figures. The resulting images are then compiled into a compelling animation.

The first edition of this project was shown for Mardi Gras in 2016. In the face of the later postal plebiscite, Todd Fuller made a third iteration of his video. To date, over 1,000 people have engaged in the process of receiving, responding to and returning a drawing, each one becoming a single image in the thousands of stills edited together into the animation.

This latest edition will be projected onto Griffin’s exterior.

Nicole Welch at Adelaide Perry

3 to 23 May

Photographic and video works by Nicole Welch, in conjunction with the Students’ Photographic Prize

Friday 3 May – Thursday 23 May
Opening: Thursday 2 May at 6.00 pm

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Mylyn Nguyen

- Sometimes I’m too boring for my imaginary friends, 2019

8 to 26 May

I always wanted imaginary friends but I couldn’t get any. When I was little my greatest comfort was cardboard boxes. Big ones, small ones, matchbox ones. If I couldn’t have imaginary friends, at least I could make a home for one and hope they would like it enough to make friends with me.

Sometimes I would sit in an empty cardboard box for hours; savouring the dim, browny-hued darkness and warm paper smell. When I was about 20, I made one. I couldn’t decide if he was a bear or a human, so he is half: a man wearing a bear head. He still appears now sometimes to pat me on my head when I accidentally step in a puddle of water and get my socks all wet so I have to spend the rest of the day walking around with squishy shoes or when I drop my egg, mid-peel, into the bin.

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Waratah Lahy

- Hand Held World, 2019

8 to 26 May

My paintings explore scenes from everyday life: houses, homes, windows, streets, gardens and backyards. I paint scenes that evoke a sense of contemplation: focussing on places and moments that exert a quiet influence on those who view them.

I’ve lived in the same inner-city suburb for the past 20 years and in that time the streets around me have changed dramatically. Houses get knocked down, apartments go up and the skyline is continually changing. My paintings echo the small moments and changes I see in my local environments. I explore scenes that seem familiar and take my time to notice moments of unexpected beauty - repetitions of shapes and patterns and richness of colour. I paint these moments in miniature as a reprieve from the big and grandiose. My neighbourhood becomes palm-sized and these quiet moments offer a way of making new connections with the changing environment.

 The paintings in hand held world have been heavily influenced by my ongoing interest in hand painted magic lantern slides. My fascination with miniatures and magic lantern slides relates to how they function as spaces of imagination. Before the advent of photography and cinema, magic lantern performances transported viewers to new worlds: entertaining, educating and inspiring new ways of thinking, and encouraging discovery of new geographies.  Similarly, miniatures require the viewers to imagine themselves within the painted space – a unique world silently separate and from our own. Hand painted magic lantern slides engage through paradoxical shifts in scale: they are small enough to be held in the hand yet the images can be projected larger than life.

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Peter Tilley

- The Tangible and the Shadow, 2019

29 May to 16 June

The body of work for this exhibition continues my exploration of the connections between the figure and the shadow. The shadow as an image of the body, manifesting here as an expressive material object that reveals, visually or symbolically, traits of the casting figure that may not be readily evident.

Jenny Orchard

- All Tomorrows Stories, 2019

19 June to 13 July

Science tells us how close we are to other animals, we share the form of most of our organs with so many of them. Like them we have two eyes, two ears, breath and entropy, and like them we can laugh and cry…. Even those who are foreign to our eyes have bodies which, like us share a genetic code and DNA that goes back through time to beginning of life on the planet. We are the future and unknowable destiny of the planet itself, now that we can manipulate the code.

My imagination is blown wild by that knowledge. I am both more and less than human through my interactions with our collective technology and consciousness.

I want to make creatures that ask Who am I, and Who are You?

Al Munro at Craft ACT

11 July to 31 August

Charlotte Bakker

- Resonant Forms, 2019

17 July to 4 August

Resonant Forms presents a body of sculptural work that considers the synchronicities between sculptural composition and musical improvisation. Drawing on the enduring connection between the fields of music and sculpture, these works are responsive to musical rhythm and movement. The steel and timber forms seek to articulate the lyricism inherent to musical composition, presenting a harmonious sequence of visual elements that explore implied and constructed sculptural space.

Through an improvisational process driven by intuition, Bakker’s practice is informed by the legacy of steel sculpture, the practice of drawing in space and the rhythmic forms in classical and instrumental music. An extension of the practice of drawing in space allows for an investigation of linearity beyond the limitations of the flat surface, engaging with the three-dimensional through line, form and spatial tension. Utilisation of steel as a primary material exploits the connotation of its industrial uses, uncovering its unexpected expressive and poetic possibilities.

Robert Boynes

A whole life in a passing moment, 2019

17 July to 4 August

We often make nonverbal observations and judgements about people, situations and even random objects as they pass before us.

Some of these image may be burned into our memory and reappear as tropes that we recognised and repeat. They may be a pattern of habits or even personal taste - as in my case. I search for the drama of that moment or the stillness of another, which I find compelling in my ordinary life.

Some of these works focus on the private and domestic, a reflection on internal thoughts and local matters. Others are more global in nature, portraying large scale social and environmental events. The pairing of these two positions place the works into a global context. These paintings stay with us as flashes of memory, like rapid bursts of light that resonate after our eyes are closed. Mysteries remain.  

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Charlie Sheard at Manly Art Gallery & Museum

26 July to 1 September

Alex Karaconji

- Morning, 2019

7 August to 25 August

Morning is a hand-drawn animation about the first hour of my day. Although the plot is relatively uneventful, I have tried to render each gesture and object as vividly as I can. In doing so, I have tried to revitalise and reclaim a part of my day that I am rarely conscious of. The animation process is well-suited to this task. It is repetitive, slow and involves close analysis of slight, incremental movements. Morning encapsulates my approach to drawing in both its domestic subject matter and in its attempt to intensify an experience of life through the close observation of fine details.

Agnes Tyson

The Interior of Home, 2019

7 August to 25 August

A well established genre for artists, ‘The Interior of Home’, consists of paintings depicting the artist’s homes, from childhood to the present. Our lives fill the interior spaces with our energy - our moods, aspirations, disappointments, fears, traumas, joy, celebrations - connections with ourselves and others. They hold our possessions and provide space for us to sleep, eat, wash, rest, play, relate, interact, think, create and daydream. Every home has a feeling, a kinaesthetic sensation that fills the space and these paintings engage with the unique energy of the places they depict. 

The body of work also explores the more formal concerns of space, line, shape, tone and colour. It plays with spatial relationships, flat space and pattern. The paintings invite the observer to physically enter the spaces depicted. While these interiors are specific and personal, they also seek to take us to a space we have might have known, remembered or imagined. 

Eliza Gosse

- Eggs With Soldiered Toast Buttered Well, 2019

28 August to 15 September

Eggs With Soldiered Toast Buttered Well is a series of paintings based on a collection of memories by Australians who grew up in mid-century modernist homes.

This gouache series is presented on off-white paper with the corresponding story printed above in reference to Tracey Moffatt’s 1994 Scared For Life suite. While Moffatt’s photographic series depicted suburban dramas, I present amusing and mundane stories that correspond to the home and to these mid-century designs.

By portraying paintings of modernist architecture alongside personal anecdotes, I stress the importance of the design of this era in Australian history. My paintings capture a rich architectural moment in Australia’s recent past. The way we live contributes to our national identity and so it matters how we tell and retell our collective histories of home. There is a risk that these stories will be lost over time, just as the homes are being demolished. 

Indigo O'Rourke

- At the heart of all things, 2019

28 August to 15 September

After reading The Secret Life of Trees by British science writer, Colin Tudge, I began to look at trees in a different way. I would drive to locations around Victoria to look at particular trees and whilst being so disheartened by humanity, the drought and climate change, trees would give me a sense of ease.

Humanity is a mess, creating countless problems with the earth itself. Soil. Lakes. Air. Sea. Rivers…are all under stress. Those who care about humanity, as opposed to those concerned only with personal power and accumulated wealth, understand that global warming needs to be taken very seriously; common sense and basic biological theory, suggest that the more trees we retain and replant, the better managed water courses and soil erosion will be and even simply the temperature on the earth’s surface.

My next exhibition 'At the heart of all things' explores intricate drawings of incredible trees in their entirely and on-site sketches of trees that I have repeatedly visited over the last two years. Trees affect my practice significantly because not only are they the paper I draw on but also the wooden frames that house them. In my heart trees are the centre of all things.


- Coordinated by Lisa Jones, 2019

18 September - 14 October

Square is a group exhibition of mid-career artists working in a range of media and across genres of painting and sculpture.

Square is an improvisation in visual art that uses a set format as an aesthetic platform or starting point for each artist. Each artist improvises on four 40 x 40cm Ash panels.

Square artists are Lynne Eastaway, Richard Dunn, Catherine O’Donnell, Daniel Hollier, Pollyxenia Joannou, Lisa Jones, Stephen Little, Tom Loveday, Al Munro and Stuart Smith.

Keiko Matsui

- Concave, 2019

16 October - 3 November

James Guppy

- Legacy, 2019

16 October to 3 November

Fires are a part of life here… bushfires, the sugarcane, the burnoffs.

A few years back we did a burn of a few big camphor laurel stumps that had been felled many years ago. As we kept a watchful eye on the fire… we took photos.  The flames, smoke and slow charcoaling of the wood were mesmerising.

The photographs looked like alien landscapes; strange and evocative of some other place. 

Originally this all melded into backdrops for absurdist tableaux I painted with characters from Dr Seuss, Watteau's Fete Galant and B grade Sci Fi. These works were fun but confused. The strongest part were these original burnt landscapes. I began to see them again as other worlds with looming mountains and minute trails of inhabitants travelling through, far off in the distance.

Each of these works has come from the burn we did on that winter’s day.

Catherine O'Donnell at Grace Cossington Smith Gallery

7 November - 5 December 2019

Fibro Façade

An installation by Catherine O'Donnell

31 January - 28 June 2020

> Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, 31 January to 28 June 2020.

Catherine O’Donnell’s draughtsmanship skills are some of the finest this country has even seen. Rather than create static replications of sites, she imbues her houses with a pathos and resonance which reveals her talents as a storyteller. It is this strength that draws audiences beyond the awe of her life-like drawings, evoking the shared experience of home...” - Lizzy Marshall, curator of 2168: Estate of Tomorrow

Fibro Façade is an installation comprising eleven meticulous charcoal drawings of elements from common fibro housing and an architectural tape outline connecting them. O’Donnell’s installation was commissioned by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and was on display there in 2018 in the solo exhibition 2168: Estate of Tomorrow.

O’Donnell leaves the screen door ajar, pulls back the curtain, opens the window and shows the uneven lines of the venetian blinds to reveal that her renderings are equally about the occupants as they are about the structures that they call home.

Images by Silversalt Photography, courtesy of the Artist and MAY SPACE Sydney

... view exhibition