The Casula Powerhouse amps up

The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Photo: Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre/Facebook.

John Moyle gives us a sneak peak at the Casula Powerhouse summer program, with the venue amping up after a brief closure for restoration works. 

The Casula Powerhouse has been one of Sydney’s most vibrant suburban multi-arts facilities since its opening in the mid-nineties.

Over the years, the venue – located in Sydney’s south-west –  has developed into a state-of-the-art centre with six galleries that rotate shows year round, plus a 320 seat theatre with multiple configurations.

Possibly its greatest strengths are how it has integrated with the Liverpool community, and its ability to attract attention from across Greater Sydney for its shows.

Coming out of a short break, on 18 November the arts centre will present a series of summer shows, workshops, and local and national art prizes. 

Launching on the 18th will be the posthumous solo show My Secret Urban Sanctuary by Gil Farla, a local artist who had been a member of the Liverpool Art Society since 2009.

In 2019, Farla won the Casula Powerhouse Scholarship Prize, which gives recipients the opportunity to further develop their work towards a themed solo show.

Located on land in the heart of the Darug nation’s Cabrogal Clan territory, now within the Liverpool City Council boundaries, the Powerhouse has a long history of supporting and working with Indigenous peoples.

This November will see the 29th annual Mil-Pra Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Exhibition & Art Prize, celebrating the significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in the Liverpool region and beyond.

Exhibition entries may include a range of mediums from painting to ceramics to sculpture, and is open to Indigenous people of all ages from NSW and the ACT.

The Mil-Pra prize and exhibition complements the gallery’s already strong representation of local and national Indigenous art works.

A gallery within the Casula Powerhouse. Photo: Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre/Facebook.

Now celebrated biennially, the 69-year-old Blake Prize for religious arts has been based at the Casula Powerhouse since 2016.

In recent years, the Blake’s focus has changed to the broader spiritual arts rather than religious art.

Almost as controversial as the Archibald Prize, the Blake’s $35,000 main prize past winners include prominent artists such as George Gittoes, Euan McLeod and Shirley Purdie.

With entries for the Blake now closed, the prize will be announced on 13 February 2021, coinciding with the opening of the accompanying Blake Prize Exhibition.

A series of summer workshops will run from mid-October through to late November, encompassing everything from making street art and engaging community based artists through to Creative Connections, a workshop for people living with mental health issues.

On entering the Casula Powerhouse, you will step across the newly refurbished Koori Floor, an installation laid down in 1994.

Created by Indigenous artist Judy Watson, this 600 square metre permanent feature celebrates the Aboriginal presence of the land predating European occupation.

Composed of natural earth pigments, the floor contains natural items important to the local Indigenous people such as seed pods, kangaroo bones, echidna quills and mineral crystals.

Many of the artists who assisted Watson on this project have since gained international acclaim including Gordon Hookey, Cheryl Robinson, Vivian Scott and Brook Andrew, the new Artistic Director of the Biennale of Sydney.

You could do worse this summer than spend some time at the Casula Powerhouse located within 20 hectares of bushland and vegetable gardens on the banks of the Georges River.

The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is located at 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula. For more information, visit www.casulapowerhouse.com or call (02) 8711 7123.

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