A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

Tag: penrith regional gallery

HOUSE CALL // the ideal home

Douglas Snelling chair and foot stool, 1957 (timber and synthetic webbing); Douglas Snelling cabinet, 1949 (timber); George Nelson ‘Bubble’ lamp, 1947-70s (plastic and metal)

Robin Boyd ‘House of Tomorrow’, designed 1949 (model made 1992)

Wolfgang Sievers ‘House of Tomorrow’ photographs, 1949 (printed 1990)

Grant and Mary Featherston ‘Numero IV’ lounge suite, 1973-74 (polyurethane foam, ABS plastic and wool); Grant and Mary Featherston dining setting, 1969 (stem, plastic, timber, metal, rubber and fabric); Korban/Flaubert ‘Swaylamp’ floor lamp, 2002 (background); Marc Newson ‘Helice’ floor lamp, 1993 (foreground)

Catherine O’Donnell ‘Sirius Topography (series)’, 2018 (3M vinyl tape 471)

Mid century modern style made a comeback years ago and it’s not going away any time soon and for good reason – great design. I recently saw The Ideal Home exhibition and although it’s very small, it’s worth it if you’re in the area (there’s a larger second site at MAAS Powerhouse in Ultimo). The exhibit shows a slice of history with examples of what a 20th century Australian home looked like with furnishings and household items from the MAAS Collection.

In this era Australia had one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world and suburbs grew quickly. Modern technology and mass manufacturing made goods readily available to consumers and time saving products allowed more leisure. While modernist designers created trends in architecture, interiors and design internationally, Australian pioneers made their own mark. Architect Robin Boyd’s creations are featured as well as iconic furniture designers Grant and Mary Featherston.

Another interesting and unexpected element was the installation of drawings of the Sirius brutalist apartment block. I’ve written before about the threat of redevelopment that the iconic building is facing in my Save Our Sirius post. Catherine O’Donnell has covered the walls with tape outlines of the Sirius footprint, floor plans and elevations to showcase this treasure in a fresh way.

Australians embraced mid century modern as it represented comfort, style and function. 100 years later it is a lifestyle that we still aspire to today.

MASTERSTROKE // margo lewers

Margo Lewers ‘Broken Circles’, c1968 (synthetic polymer paint on composition board)

Margo Lewers ‘Composition in Orange’, c1952 (oil on canvas on cardboard), ‘Orange Shapes (torso)’, c1956 (oil on hardboard)

Margo Lewers ‘Green on Brown’, ‘Red (1)’, ‘Red (2)’, ‘Orange with White’, c1971 (perspex)

Margo Lewers ‘Interior (Centre) (diptych)’, c1965 (synthetic polymer paint on composition board)

Margo Lewers ‘Marine Composition No.1’, no date (oil on masonite), ‘Scene Change’, c1951 (oil on masonite)

I managed to catch the exhibition Emu Island: Modernism in Place before it closed and I was glad I did. It celebrated the significance of Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest as well as it’s importance to Modernism. You can read more about the history of the space on my previous post here. Featuring works by founders Margo and Gerald Lewers along with luminaries of the Sydney art scene such as Frank and Margel Hinder, Judy Cassab, John Olsen, Tony Tuckson, Carl Plate and Robert Klippel. The works span four decades when the Lewers’ resided on the property from 1942-1978.

The standout for me was Margo Lewers’ work which celebrated bold colours, shapes and experimentation with materials. She was an inspirational woman who lived in a time when there were limitations for females but she shone. They were living in a changing world when those formative years of feminism and attitudes were evolving. Margo and her husband created a holistic way of living, working and entertaining their friends and art contemporaries in the new modern age. It would have been amazing to be a part of that energy and creativity.

WEEKEND WRAP // gallery in the garden

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Gregory Hodge ‘Weather patterns’ (acrylic on canvas)

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Jonny Niesche ‘Dissolve into being loop’, ‘Particle shift’, ‘Punctum’ (voile on wood)

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Supporting small business is important to me and I like visiting galleries in different communities. I spent a peaceful Sunday morning by the Nepean River at the Penrith Regional Gallery in Emu Plains. Firstly enjoying a breakfast from the café on the grounds Café At Lewers, I then wandered through the spaces to view the current collection of art.

Originally this location was rural land in the early settlement of the Penrith area and was built in 1905. In the 1940’s, sculptor Gerald and painter Margo bought the property and made it their home and studio. The Lewers couple were two leading artists in the development of modernism in Australian art and their home became known as a place of style and innovation. An additional house was built by architect Sydney Ancher and the couple continued to live and work on the property until their deaths. The Lewers daughters donated the entire site to the local council along with a substantial collection of art by their parents, as well as works from their contemporaries. The vision was to create a centre for the community to present and show an appreciation of art – it was officially established as a gallery in 1981.

This gallery provides a unique environment as it is situated amongst the beautiful heritage gardens with the original architecture of the historic homes. The addition of pavilion extensions and the café contribute to the artistic atmosphere and make it a lovely place to visit on the way to the Blue Mountains.

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