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Penrith Regional Gallery - A Place for Mods - Fashion, Photography and Design

Source: Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest
Archived 20 Apr 2018 - Posted: 23 Feb 2018
Katrina Sandbach
Fashion, photography and design enriches every aspect of how we live today. Whether we’re aware of it or not, design surrounds us, and can be found in the tiniest of places and items.

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 was a popular gathering place for artists, writers, and intellectuals—arguably the hub of Sydney’s Modernist scene.

At Penrith Regional Gallery on Saturday 3 March from 1 – 4pm, three contemporary designers will tap into the site’s rich history of creativity to explore the roots of modern aesthetics, ideas of beauty and how they create social meaning and a sense of place.

The Gallery site at Emu Plains is testimony to all things modern, from the front gate to the back and interior; a home of art, architecture, interior and garden design created by modernist artist Margo Lewers.

Hear from Dr Alison Gill, Ms Katrina Sandbach and Dr Michelle Catanzaro from Western Sydney University as they explore how the key design elements of colour, clean lines, contrast, used by mid-century modernists - evident in the purpose designed and built shelving, mosaic floors from leftover tiles and soft furnishings made by Margo -  are enjoying a resounding resurgence in contemporary design practice and our homes today.

Looking through the lens of branding, Katrina Sandbach will present a modified view of western Sydney that moves away from seeing the region as ‘somewhere’ with ‘possibilities’, but rather, a place where something special already happened.

Margo Lewers is renowned for her use of a variety of media with a distinct approach to colour, line and form. Dr Michelle Catanzaro 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 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.

Well known as a woman of style, Margo experienced life in a modern, fashionable Sydney. Dr Alison Gill traces the incubation of the Lewers’ bohemian style between the city and suburb. Delving into the archives of the Lewers and the Australian 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 to pose and generate relationships and fashion stories.


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.

The Penrith Regional Gallery public program is part of the 2018 Sydney Design Festival places are limited so please RSVP to reserve your place.

Penrith Regional Gallery - a Place for Mods - Fashion, Photography and Design
Public program 2018 Sydney Design Festival

Saturday 3 March

1 – 4pm

Penrith Regional Gallery, 86 River Rd, Emu Plains.


  • FREE
  • Call 4735 1100 or email

This article archived 20 Apr 2018

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