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An Exhibition of Modernist Suburban Homes, Painted In Brilliant Detail

Art

In his 1960 book The Australian Ugliness, groundbreaking modernist architect Robin Boyd offers a scathing critique of post-war suburban Australian design as emblematic of our cultural identity at the time.

Artist Robyn Sweaney reflects on how the philosophies of the modernist movement still affect how we live today, depicting the homes of this era in her show Backwards Looking Forwards, opening tonight at Arthouse Gallery in Rushcutters Bay.

6th December, 2018

‘Light still in shadow’ by Robyn Sweaney.

‘The memory keeper’ by Robyn Sweaney.

‘Past progressive’ by Robyn Sweaney.

‘Moving on, Between ourselves’ by Robyn Sweaney.

‘Adaption’ by Robyn Sweaney.

‘Continuum’ by Robyn Sweaney.

Sally Tabart
Thursday 6th December 2018

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
Arthouse Gallery
66 McLachlan Avenue
Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.