Fibro Façade: An installation by Catherine O'Donnell

National Exhibition Register

  • Fibro Façade (Installation view at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2018)
    Catherine O'Donnell Fibro Façade (Installation view at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 2018), 2017-18
    charcoal on paper, tape
    20 running metres
    Image Credit
    Image by Silversalt Photography, courtesy of the Artist and MAY SPACE Sydney

About the exhibition

“Catherine O’Donnell’s draughtsmanship skills are some of the finest this country has even seen. Rather than create static replications of sites, she imbues her houses with a pathos and resonance which reveals her talents as a storyteller. It is this strength that draws audiences beyond the awe of her life-like drawings, evoking the shared experience of home...” - Lizzy Marshall, curator of 2168: Estate of Tomorrow

“My art practice focuses on the urban landscape by representing the commonly overlooked dwellings of suburbia in an abstracted form. I’m currently interested in the fibro houses found all over Australia including in Western Sydney, where I grew up. This type of housing was used for housing estates in parts of the country; an exercise in idealistic social engineering that has now become a cultural signifier of lower socioeconomic communities. In other areas of Australia, these humble structures were used as low-cost housing solutions in towns and on properties, or for some have come to represent the holidays; escapes from the routine of daily life.

Through my drawings, I aim to highlight the building’s function as a home, as well as its modernist form, in order to reveal it as simultaneously altruistic, beautiful, impractical, and a refuge. In these structures, it is the uncomplicated geometric construction and simplicity of form that captures my imagination. I draw what I regard to be beautiful or interesting in order to highlight the power of the ordinary, commonplace architecture of the urban landscape. At first glance, these qualities may not be evident, as these developments are not always given the same value as other housing. But to me, these buildings are so much more that the physical embodiment of post-war utopian ideals and principles of European modernism. They have been, and still are, homes for many people.

I represent the structure of these homes in a minimal, abstracted form to explore the compositional potential and underlying symmetry of these dwellings. I strive to offer a fresh way of seeing these often bleak landscapes and to disrupt cultural prejudices preventing people from perceiving the underlying elegance of these simple dwellings.” - Catherine O’Donnell, 2018

Fibro Façade is an installation comprising eleven meticulous charcoal drawings of elements from common fibro housing and an architectural tape outline connecting them. O’Donnell’s installation was commissioned by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and was on display there in 2018 in the solo exhibition 2168: Estate of Tomorrow.

O’Donnell leaves the screen door ajar, pulls back the curtain, opens the window and shows the uneven lines of the venetian blinds to reveal that her renderings are equally about the occupants as they are about the structures that they call home.

Fibro Façade is now available to tour. This twenty-metre installation has only been shown in a linear format, but could traverse the walls and corners of a room or corridor space, integrating the architecture of the host location.

Artists and Curator


Catherine O'Donnell

Available Dates and
Exhibition Details

Available dates
19/02/2019 - 31/12/2022
Exhibition size
Under 50 sq or running metres
Originating state
Organised by
$3,500 (exc. freight)
Web Site
Accompanying materials available
Installation Support Available, Labels, Signage
Other materials
- The possibility of the artist creating public programming opportunities - The possibility of the artist being available for installation - A commissioned essay by Curator Lizzy Marshall - Supporting materials, such as sketchbooks, are available - Artwork protection solutions (to be discussed) - Crate for artwork storage and handling - Installation instructions
Primary contact
Representative Gallery
(02) 9318 1122
Catherine O'Donnell is represented by MAY SPACE, Sydney. 'Fibro Façade' was commissioned by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.