Ceaseless exploration on display at Penrith, Bankstown and throughout the region

Penrith R Gallery - David HainesBlue Mountains artists, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding are engaged in a ceaseless exploration which has no regard for boundaries between arts and sciences. In 2011, they won the Anne Landa award for video and new media arts at the Art Gallery of NSW. The outlands invited visitors to “take control and conduct their own voyage through an immersive digital world of forests, islands, and futuristic interior architecture.” Recently, under the title Energies: Haines & Hinterding, they exhibited at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Arts. There, a similar work invited viewers to explore a different mode of control of the spectacular giant images of Geology projected onto a wall. Other works connected with energies beyond the museum, like television signals or radio waves, while some explored the unseen energy of the occult.

Each artist has pursued their own independent research and experimentation, while collaborating on other projects. For almost a decade, David has been exploring aroma – “composing fragrances inspired by plants, the earth and the cosmos” – creating complex chemical formulas. Now he is one of four Sydney based artists including Tully Arnot, Salote Tawale and Genevieve Lown, who are participating in an exhibition Hot House at Penrith Regional Gallery. Inspired in part by the violets in the gallery’s heritage garden, David’s Violet Gas (Phantom Leaves), see photo above, permeates the atmosphere of the exhibition. It’s a playful exhibition with an audioguide giving insights into the artists’ work.

1-The Way_A4-page-001At Bankstown, another kind of exploration is having its third phase of presentation. First, it was Look the Other Way, then it was The Other Way and now it is The Way – the first two co-produced by Sydney Theatre Company and Bankstown Youth Development Service (BYDS). For more than 20 years BYDS’s mission statement and practice have been “To inspire local young artists and to deliver sustainable cultural programs that invigorate the local Bankstown community”. Through many of their projects, they work with local high school students and staff. BYDS director Tim Carroll says, “Produced by BYDS The Way explores the lives of families living in Bankstown. Over one day, follow people whose choices and decisions may have a far greater effect than they could ever have imagined…”

The Way is directed by Stefo Nantsou with the assistance of gifted professional performer and director Aanisa Vylet. Their previous work with local young people has produced rich insights, energetic and polished performances. The Way will be presented at Bankstown Arts Centre from October 1 to 10. For bookings and information click here.

Now in its second week of showings Urban Theatre Project’s new film One Day for Peace continues to be seen at sites around the region. Described as a film about faith and the everyday, One Day for Peace contains interviews with 27 different people who provide a microcosm of the immense diversity of cultures and religious faiths across western Sydney. Included are people of Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Jain, Christian, Baha’i, Buddhist faiths, Aboriginal spirituality and more. Each gives a description of their individual practice, sometimes with touches of humour, sometimes with poignancy and always with honesty.

UTP - One Day for Peace - ParraOutside Parramatta Town Hall last night, a panel led by ABC broadcaster Geraldine Doogue discussed their individual responses to the film and some of the issues raised. Maha Abdo, Dr. John Rees, Professor James Arvanitakis participated with the film’s director Rosie Dennis. Each agreed they felt a sense of quiet optimism and often a wish to know more about the individuals’ lives. Rosie’s primary intention has been to start a widespread conversation about faith, culture and diversity. She wants to encourage people to recognise the nuances of faith and culture within the community and avoid the constant simplistic “them and us” delivered by the media. She mentioned an audience member at Blacktown, who had assumed every man with a beard and headdress was Muslim and had little idea of other religions.

James described students who struggle to find the words needed to articulate thoughts, beliefs, ideas and questions. His academic area is management and he doesn’t consider himself a religious man, but he recognises the need across many fields. For Maha of the Muslim Women’s Association, she agrees and finds encouragement in the demonstration of diverse individual experience. Since 9/11, young Muslims in Australia have been subject to all sorts of abuses and exclusions and little effort to understand their experiences. They can be left with a sense of isolation and disconnection. Nonetheless, in response to a question from Geraldine, she sees glimpses of an Australian Muslim identity emerging, which will be distinct in the way that Indonesian Muslims distinguish themselves from Arabic Muslims.

All acknowledged the role of culture in the interpretation and experience of faith and John emphasised the importance of this understanding in Australia’s growing relationship with its south east Asian neighbours. Even though people can be very critical of the faith and culture in which they may have been brought up, Geraldine considers their impact in giving a sense of identity and being grounded is deeply significant. While the future of the film is not yet clear, there was general agreement that it should be shown widely and especially in schools. Despite the freezing wind, passers by were happy to sit down and watch. Two young men came and sat on either side of me, introducing themselves to me and each other as Faroz and Nabil. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, assisted by the provision of free hot drinks and snacks.

There’s still time to catch a full screening at:
Auburn Central, Wednesday 23 Sept, 6:30pm
Blacktown Train Station, Thursday 24 Sept, 6:30pm
Blacktown Train Station, Saturday 26 Sept, 6pm (additional screening)
Canley Vale Heights, Saturday 26 Sept, 6:30pm
Cabramatta Moon Festival, Sunday 27 Sept, 7pm
More info on locations can be found here.

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