Artist Robyn Sweaney grew up the outer Melbourne suburb of Mount Waverley during the 1960s and 1970s. Her family had a ‘fascination with other people’s houses’, taking cross-country road trips in the school holidays that exposed Robyn and her four siblings to a ‘whole new world’ from their suburban existence. More than 40 years later, Robyn’s interest in how people live has manifested in painting Australian homes from the post-war period, and exploring how this period continues to impact on our cultural identity.
Coming to a career in art by way of an art teaching degree, Robyn spent many years as a secondary school art teacher and in Adult Education to help support her practice. After a decade devoted to juggling motherhood and painting, Robyn ‘had an epiphany’ while riding around her adopted home of Mullumbimby in Northern New South Wales in the early 2000s, yearning to preserve a moment in time of her changing town. Shifting course, Robyn moved away from painting the ‘ceramic vases and flowers from the garden’ of her domestic realm to source subject matter outside the home.
This latest show at Arthouse Gallery in Sydney, Backwards Looking Forwards, contemplates how the ‘past melds into our present experiences’, and focuses on the post-war houses that ‘crept into the suburbs’ in 1960s Australia. Inspired by actual houses across Tasmania, Victoria, and Northern NSW, these places say so much about the boom in creative, social and political development of the time.
Backwards Looking Forwards by Robyn Sweaney
December 6th 2018 – January 12th 2019
66 McLachlan Avenue
Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales