Catherine O’Donnell’s practice focuses on the urban landscape, in particular, the overlooked dwellings of suburban Western Sydney – where she spent her childhood – reflecting on the architecture, culture and history of the area.
In ‘Fibro Façade’, eleven meticulous charcoal drawings pay tribute to the once-popular domestic structures otherwise known as fibro houses. While geometry and spatial composition play an essential part in O’Donnell’s renderings, it is their suggestive quality that piques interest: a drawn curtain, a slightly open door, an uneven Venetian blind. O’Donnell recreates these houses not just as a building, but as a home.
‘Through my drawings, I aim to highlight the building’s function as a home, as well as its modernist form, in order to reveal it as simultaneously altruistic, beautiful, impractical and a refuge. In these structures, it is the uncomplicated geometric construction and simplicity of form that captures my imagination. I draw what I regard to be beautiful or interesting in order to highlight the power of the ordinary, commonplace architecture of the urban landscape. At first glance, these qualities may not be evident, as these developments are not always given the same value as other housing. But to me, these buildings are so much more that the physical embodiment of post-war utopian ideals and principles of European modernism. They have been, and still are, homes for many people.’ – Catherine O’Donnell
‘Fibro Façade’ is a touring exhibition from MAY SPACE, Sydney.
Tweed Regional Gallery
31 January to 28 June 2020
New South Wales