Inspirational arts, science and social engagement at Penrith Regional Gallery

Penrith R Gallery - Gravity (and Wonder) AmyScience and the arts combine in a mutually inspiring exploration that will culminate in an exhibition at Penrith Regional Gallery in 2016. The gallery is the recipient of the $40,000 Inaugural Dobell Exhibition Grant for the development of Gravity (and Wonder). The exhibition will be a
collaboration with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS). Gravity (and Wonder) will explore the history and philosophy of this fundamental law of the universe through contemporary art and related objects, instruments and papers in the MAAS collection.

The exhibition, scheduled for 28 August – 21 November 2016, will introduce audiences to new ways of thinking about the multi-dimensionality of matter, time and space through a range of loaned and newly commissioned sculptural and kinetic works. More than a dozen contemporary artists will participate in the presentation of new and existing works. Contributing artists already include, Richard Serra, Timothy Cook, Amy Joy Watson, Sandra Selig, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. The image above is Amy Joy Watson’s Floating Sequence 2012, balsa wood, watercolour, gouache, polyester thread, lead weights, balloons, helium. Courtesy the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide.

Penrith R Gallery - David Haines - Violet GasAn array of public programs will accompany the exhibition such as ‘Gravity Geeks’, a symposium with artists, curators and scientists, and collaborations with the Western Sydney University Observatory staff and students. David Haines and Joyce Hinterding are Blue Mountains based artists whose research into the sounds made by rocks was recently video recorded by the Sydney Morning Herald. Not long before, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney hosted Energies: Haines & Hinterding, a survey of the extraordinary range of scientific ideas and metaphors they work with. Left is David’s contribution, Violet Gas, to the Penrith Gallery’s recent exhibition Hot House. David has been creating complex chemical formulas for almost a decade as he explores aroma.

Collaboration, exploration and community engagement have proved richly rewarding for Penrith Regional Gallery this month. Not only did the gallery win the inaugural Dobell Grant, it also won the engagement category at the IMAGinE awards for their ground breaking City of Plenty project. The City of Plenty was an evolving art installation with a social conscience. Artist Sarah Goffman constructed a city made from donated non-perishable food and household consumables in the main gallery, see photo below. She worked with project partners, Ozharvest and Penrith Community Kitchen and with students from Caroline Chisholm College. Museums & Galleries of NSW‘s IMAGinE awards recognise the people who work in museums and galleries across NSW and the contributions they make.

The 2016 round of the Dobell Exhibition Grant was assessed by a panel of three – Michelle Belgiorno, trustee and Paula Latos-Valier, art director of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and Michael Rolfe, CEO of the Museums and Galleries Association of NSW, which will manage the grant. Continuing the themes of creative collaborations, science, mentoring, conversations and social interactions, Michael will open Penrith Regional Gallery’s next suite of exhibitions on Saturday, December 5. The major exhibition goes under the title Deborah Kelly – Bodies of Work, first created for the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) – No Human Being is Illegal (In All Our Glory). The second exhibition will be Networks – Communication Highways – brain imaging, Brain Sciences, UNSW.

The third is Queen Street Riches and Textures 2015 – Sharing the Seeds. Each year, supported by Penrith Council, St Mary’s Corner produces a Queen Street Riches and Textures project by inviting artists to explore issues relevant to Penrith R Gallery - City of Plenty - winthe local community through different artistic media. The 2015 Sharing the Seeds project has brought together artists, art educators, local gardeners and farmers. They are creatively exploring innovation and sustainability in community gardening and growing your own food. Partners include Mamre House, Permaculture Sydney West, TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute Nepean Arts and Design Centre, and Penrith Council.

It is now more than 40 years since Penrith Council began its pioneering role in developing arts opportunities for its residents. Despite many claims to the contrary, Penrith Council was the first council in western Sydney to employ a community arts officer (1976). It was the first to provide a permanent home for the professional Q Theatre company (1977) and the first to accept responsibility for a regional gallery. The Lewers Bequest.and Penrith Regional Gallery (now the Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest) was officially opened in 1981. The gallery is at 86 River Rd, Emu Plains NSW 2750, phone 02 4735 1100.

Blog - PPM book coverThere are endless fascinating stories behind the flourishing arts scene of present day western Sydney. Many are recorded in my book Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney. It makes a great gift and some very pleasurable holiday reading. Click here for information about where you can buy copies. Among the outlets are Campelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Penrith Regional Gallery, Blacktown Arts Centre, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery and Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. “. . . Its messages have resonances far beyond western Sydney” – Dr Peter Shergold, Chancellor of Western Sydney University.



Hawkesbury friends celebrate 25 years of achievement

Sheila Sharp & Brian Jones celebrate 25 years FOHacRG 150614On a recent Sunday in June, members of the Friends of the Hawkesbury Art Community and Regional Gallery celebrated 25 years of hard work and achievement. The Friends began when a group of local artists and supporters decided to establish an art collection that could one day be housed in a public art gallery. Two of the long standing members, Sheila Sharp and Brian Jones, left, are seen at the celebration in the Deerubbin Centre, Windsor, which now includes the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery and Library.

From the earliest days of the colony, the Hawkesbury region has held a strong attraction for artists. As a fundraising initiative for the future collection and to draw attention to the ways in which artists had captured the beauties of the region, Brian and his fellow artist Greg Hansell developed an artists trail. For more than a decade they conducted escorted tours to sites from which artists had created their works.The earliest featured were hand coloured engravings of towns on the Hawkesbury River by Joseph Lycett, published in London in the 1820s.

In 2001, assi1-Hawkesbury Artists Trailsted by Centenary of Federation funding and Hawkesbury City Council, the Friends officially launched the Hawkesbury Artists Trail with a beautifully illustrated brochure. The mayor, the late Dr Rex Stubbs, was their president and a great supporter of the proposed gallery. Paintings from the late 19th century included works by the Heidelberg “en plein air” artists Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton. Possibly the most famous of all Streeton’s pictures, seen on the front cover, left, The Purple Noon’s Transparent Might was painted from a site overlooking the Hawkesbury River. At the time, it was recognised as a quintessentially Australian landscape and a symbol of the ambition of the young nation’s desire for independence from the mother country. Among other works in the brochure was one by Roderick Shaw, a founding member of the Windsor Group of artists who visited and painted in the area between 1935 and 1945.

Also in 2001, Sheila and Brian, accompanied by Margaret Ginnings, photographed and annotated the Friends’ growing collection of paintings, works on paper, assemblage and sculpture, creating a valuable archive for the future gallery. In June 2005 a large group of Friends and supporters celebrated the opening of the new gallery and library complex at the inaugural exhibition Agri/culture.

Salvatore Zofrea FOHAC 0413Leading painter, printmaker and three times winner of the Sulman Prize, Salvatore Zofrea maintains studios at Seaforth and Kurrajong. At Kurrajong, he says he developed a love of the Australian bushland. In April 2013, during his exhibition Days of Summer at the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery Salvatore presented his painting Psalm 61: For My Father to the Hawkesbury Art Collection. Here, left, he is talking about his painting to the Friends, who held a lunch in his honour. Psalm 61: For My Father is now on permanent display in the atrium of Windsor Library, in the Deerubbin Centre.

For more information about the gallery, click here. Discover more stories behind these developments in Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western SydneyThe Book.