Event Details

Living_Room_websiteInterested in how fashion, graphic design and photography can create social meaning and a sense of place? This public program series explores the creation of contemporary modern design and the Penrith Regional Gallery site. Existing as a testament to the long-lasting impact of all things modern, is the home of art, architecture, interior and garden design created by modernist artist Margo Lewers at Emu Plains. This rich backdrop of creativity provides inspiration to three contemporary designers.

The key design elements of colour, clean lines, contrast and form used by mid-century modernists are enjoying a resounding resurgence in contemporary design practice.

As part of Sydney Design Festival, join us at our Gallery’s Modernist Research Centre – the hub of Sydney modernism, on Saturday 3 March 1 – 4pm, to hear from Dr Alison Gill, Ms Katrina Sandbach and Dr Michelle Catanzaro from Western Sydney University as they tap into the rich history of the Gallery site for inspiration and explore the roots of modern aesthetics (ideas of beauty).

The event will include time for Q&A.


Ms Katrina Sandbach is the Director of Academic Program for the Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) program in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. A designer and academic with a background in brand communication design, she is particularly interested in how visual communication affects place, and peri-urban creative industries.

Dr Michelle Catanzaro is an educator in the Design, (Visual Communication) degree at Western Sydney University. Her background as a photographer and designer informs her current practice-based research, which explores how individuals and community groups can work with visual methodologies as forms of communication.

Dr Alison Gill is a design educator in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at WSU with specialisations in design philosophy and fashion. Her current research interests are in cultures of repair, and everyday resourcefulness like customisation and making do, evidenced in publications about sport shoes, advertising, fashion, audiences/user practices, and sustainable design education.

Design Speak – Talk

Dr Alison Gill
Fashionable Sydney and Modernism 1940-60s
Well known as a woman of style, Margo experienced life in a modern, fashionable Sydney. Alison traces the incubation of the Lewers bohemian style between the city and suburb, and in relation to the Australian fashion archive. Delving into the archives of the Lewers and the Australia fashion industry Alison makes use of a diverse assemblage of personal and party pictures, Margo’s writing as well as society and fashion photographs of the time. In doing so, Alison weaves in and out of the Gallery collection and the fashion archive, to pose and generate relationships and fashion stories.

Ms Katrina Sandbach

While not always known, western Sydney has long been an incubator for innovation, with organisations like Garage Graphix and Street Level setting the scene for a range of localised creative initiatives that still resonate today. Vastly pre-dating this, the unique home of artists Margo and Gerald Lewers (and the site of this event) was a popular gathering place for artists, writers, and intellectuals—arguably the hub of Sydney’s Modernist scene. Looking through the lens of branding, Katrina will present a modified view of the west that moves away from seeing the region as ‘somewhere’ with ‘possibilities’, but rather, a place where something special already happened.

Dr Michelle Catanzaro
Margo Lewers is renowned for her use of a variety of media with a distinct approach to colour, line and form. Michelle will focus on some of Margo’s lesser known works, focusing on the domestic, intimate, and largely unseen ‘places’ that exist within the Lewers grounds. Exploring the way that photographic practice and documentation can capture networks, Michelle will give form to relationships between actors, past and present and reveal how connections can be drawn between the cerebral ideas of colour and light presented in Margo’s works, and the architectural interiors of the Lewers’ home and studio.

FREE (Bookings Essential). Please call (02) 4735 1100

For enquiries, please email gallery@penrith.city

Visit the Sydney Design Festival website for more information.

Photo: Adam Hollingworth

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