Catherine O’Donnell: Fibro Majestic

Catherine O’Donnell, 'Fibro Majestic', 2023. Installation view, Campbelltown Arts Centre. Photo: Silversalt Photography.

Saturday 8 July – Sunday 13 August 2023

Catherine O’Donnell: Fibro Majestic presents a body of work by O’Donnell that considers the historical and social context of fibro and social housing in Western Sydney and across Australia. O’Donnell grew up in a fibro home in Green Valley, Western Sydney, which at the time was the largest public housing estate in Sydney. The shape and form of the fibro house has long since informed her practice as she explores architecture, social history and the notions of home and memory.   

At the centre of the exhibition is O’Donnell’s major sculptural installation ‘Fibro Majestic, 2022, a 75%-to-scale replica of a fibro house originally created for the artist’s survey exhibition ‘Beyond the Shadow, an Orange Regional Gallery project in partnership with Grafton Regional Gallery, curated by Lucy Stranger, 2022. Accompanying the installation is a selection of sculptural works and drawings, which, more intimate in scale, are evocative of the lives lived within these homes.  

‘The fibro house, the architecture of my childhood, has a rich history extending back to the mid-1900s, with their roots in international social theory. ‘Fibro Majestic’… is an everywhere-everyman example of mid-century developments across Australia. It is synonymous with Australian identity.’ 

Catherine O’Donnell has held solo exhibitions at Carriageworks; Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre; Grafton Regional Gallery; Blacktown Arts Centre; Murray Art Museum Albury; Penrith Regional Gallery; Shoalhaven Regional Gallery; and the National Art School. She also held a solo exhibition at the Pataka Museum in New Zealand as a part of the NZ International Arts Festival (2010). O’Donnell has been awarded the Gosford Art Prize (2020), Waverley Art Prize (2020), Terrence and Lynette Fern Cité Internationale des Arts Residency Fellowship (2017), Hazelhurst Art on Paper (2015), City of Hobart Art Prize (2011), and the Albury Art Prize (2009) where she was awarded First Prize International Art Residency.  

O’Donnell’s works are held in many private and public collections in Australia and New Zealand, including: the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Parliament House Art Collection; Artbank; Penrith Regional Gallery; Grafton Regional Gallery; Murray Art Museum Albury; Kedumba Collection of Contemporary Drawings; Blacktown City Council; Mosman Art Gallery; Museum of Brisbane; and Pataka Art + Museum, New Zealand. 

‘Flawed Plans’

Complementing O’Donnell’s  exhibition,  ‘Fibro   Majestic’, Campbelltown   Arts   Centre    has    commissioned  a  site-specific  installation  on  the  stairs  and  front wall of Campbelltown Arts Centre’s amphitheatre titled ‘Flawed Plans’, 2023.  Fibro  homes  were  the  NSW  Housing  Commission’s  answer  to  the  housing  crisis  of  the  mid-20th  Century, yet their quick, cheap, box-like designs  are seen by many as an  urban planning disaster.  ‘Flawed  Plans’  playfully  highlights  the  duplicity of the fibro home. Perceptions shift and  skew as  the viewer climbs, descends or orbits the work.



Flawed Plans Photo: Silversalt Photography.