Glenbrook artist Catherine O'Donnell's work featured in The Ideal Home at Lewers

Long-time Glenbrook artist Catherine O'Donnell has a new series of work in a major exhibition curated by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) in partnership with Penrith Regional Gallery (Lewers Bequest).

The work pays homage to the brutalist architecture of the Sirius building in Sydney’s Millers Point, providing a commentary upon the loss of public housing and community in the inner city.  Using six large-scale tape drawings she has mapped out the Sirius building footprint, floorplans and elevations across the walls of the main gallery. 

The landmark building in the Rocks has been the centre of controversy in recent years when the government announced it would remove residents and redevelop the site.

“This iconic brutalist building was designed for the Housing Commission of NSW in 1978 by Tao Gofers, and was intended to house and improve the lives of the neediest in our community,” O’Donnell said.

“Yet, all too often social housing developments and their tenants do not receive the same consideration by government as do those in private accommodation, which is evident today, as the Sirius building is now offered for redevelopment for the wealthy.” 

The exhibition looks at different experiences of home and family and encompasses themes of, not just, design and technology, but also contemporary social issues such as domestic violence, homelessness, housing affordability and the notion of Australia as refuge. 

It will be opened on December 1 by NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin. Titled The Ideal Home, it presents a history of the 20th century Australian home through household objects, furniture and design classics from the MAAS Collection and new artworks by nine contemporary Australian artists.

A spokeswoman for the project said O’Donnell’s work explores the way a region’s architecture and general streetscapes of the places we live in, “become recessed into our minds like wallpaper, being at once visible and invisible”. 

O’Donnell, who has lived in the Mountains for 25 years and been a working artist for ten of those, has encouraged Mountains audiences to get along and see the exhibition which she describes as “ interesting, beautifully curated and thought provoking”.

“It questions the function of a home and what 'the ideal home' means to different members of the community. There is something for everyone in this exhibition.”

O'Donnell was awarded the Cite Internationale des Arts Residency fellowship and her work was included in Close to Home, Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2016. 

The exhibition runs until March 24.

Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest is set amidst heritage gardens on the western bank of the Nepean River at the foot of the Blue Mountains at Emu Plains. The gallery is open daily from 9am - 5pm and admission is free.