Catherine O’Donnell’s Largescale Drawings Appreciate the Meaning of Home

by CaroPosted on

Homes come in all shapes and sizes, and mean something different to the people who live in them. A home can be a shelter where one feels protected, or it can be used a metaphor for a place where the heart is, as the saying goes. Australian artist Catherine O’Donnell explores the different variety and tone of urban dwellings like homes in her largescale charcoal drawings. Her images are typically drawn in high contrast, with a focus on the interesting visual aspects of places like the public housing estates of her “Notion of Home” series, or the back alleys of Venice, Italy in “Venetian Visions”. Though there is often a lack of people in most of her work, O’Donnell sees a suggestion of human touch in each structure’s design components, amplified by the size of her works drawn at 1:1 scale. “I see the suburbs as full of connection and disconnection, sameness and difference; in short, my drawings examine suburban living as a site of complexity,” she says. “I am particularly interested in the way that the vernacular architecture and general street scapes of the places we regularly inhabit become recessed into our minds like wallpaper – they are at once visible and invisible.” Most recently, O’Donnell depicted the “Home Front” of Australian soldiers and nurses during the Gallipoli campaign. The series addresses the emotional connection to a place called home even when its inhabitants are displaced, and how her subjects maintained a sense of self and comradeship while at the front. For her next series, “Drawn in Fairfield,” O’Donnell will depict fibro-style housing from the 1960s and 70s in the Fairfield area of Sydney, and interview their residents, for an upcoming exhibition at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery.

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