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Internationally Renowned French Artists to Re-Imagine Penrith as a City of the Future

SYDNEY.- The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) announced that Penrith City Council has signalled the green light for an unprecedented collaboration with contemporary artists in Western Sydney. Internationally renowned French art collective, Campement Urbain, has been commissioned to draw up a proposal which would re-imagine Penrith as a showcase for urban renewal and sustainable living.

To be called The Future of Penrith / Penrith of the Future, the collaborative project will help to guide Penrith Council in shaping its ideal vision of the city as a progressive, innovatively-designed urban centre. The project will begin with an intensive period of collaboration and community consultation, from which the artists will draft their recommendations for a preferred future for Penrith. Using existing and new research, the artists will propose an area of cultural and social importance for the city, comprising indoor and outdoor areas that attract people of all ages and builds a sense of community. The work will consider how the CBD and river might be brought together, to better link the city’s stunning natural landscape with its urban environments.

Campement Urbain founder and internationally renowned multi-media artist, Sylvie Blocher says the collaboration signifies a chapter of immense possibility for Penrith city. “The overall-aim of the project is to position Penrith as a place where people can dream, create bonds and build shared histories. It would propose a city that was renowned throughout Australia and the world as a showcase for urban renewal, sustainable lifestyles and community development. We would like to create a playful place, which is original and ahead of its time.”

This exciting and innovative collaboration is a partnership between Campement Urbain and Penrith City Council, Panthers Group, C3West, the MCA, Landcom and Penrith Performing & Visual Arts. Announcing the commission at a special launch event at the Penrith Panthers club today, Penrith Mayor Cr. Kevin Crameri said, “Penrith City Council and its partners are thrilled to be working with Campement Urbain and its talented artists to seek more creative ways to revitalise our beautiful city and maximise its potential as a place of community and shared experiences.”

The new collaboration is the second stage in a long term partnership which began in 2006 when Sylvie Blocher visited Penrith for a preliminary artist residency. The visit was at the invitation of C3West - an initiative which connects communities and business with arts and cultural organisations in Western Sydney. In 2007, Campement Urbain presented a proposal to Penrith Panthers which aimed to transform the rugby league club into a place of community engagement and inspiration. In the two years since that time, the proposal has significantly expanded and resulted in Penrith Council’s decision today to take the artists’ vision to the next stage.

MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor explains: “C3West is an arts-led initiative to bring together artists and companies to find new ways of achieving their objectives, often with a community benefit. It is terrific to see the work that Sylvie Blocher and Campement Urbain have done being endorsed and taken to a new level. It is a wonderful demonstration of the positive role that artists can play in society, outside the gallery context. ´

Panthers Group Marketing Manager, Max Cowan, said: “We have been delighted to work with Campement Urbain over the last four years and look forward to continuing to do so in the future. Their artistic creativity and talents help us step out of ourselves and get a very different perspective on the potential future for Penrith. This is particularly exciting when we are talking about a project that could have a very positive impact on the entire local environment of Penrith.”

Based in Paris, Campement Urbain was founded in the late 1990s by artist Sylvie Blocher and Urban Planner/Architect François Daune. For the Penrith project, they are joined by Australian architect Tim Williams. The Collective’s practice explores notions of responsibility and shared city spaces. According to Blocher, the artists are particularly interested in creating, “new histories in urban spaces which are on the periphery of today’s large cities and can be forgotten by the majority of the city’s population.”

At the launch, a series of photographs are also being unveiled from Heads Up – an exhibition at the MCA and a C3West project undertaken in collaboration with the Penrith Panthers and Australian artist Craig Walsh. For this exhibition, Walsh created portraits of Panthers players and supporters, documenting the subjects’ expressions minutes after the final whistle of the four first home games of the 2008 NRL season. Ten of the large format photographs from the exhibition have been installed in the foyer of the Panthers site in Penrith. Artist Craig Walsh is present at the unveiling of the exhibition’s photographic series.

Sydney | The Museum of Contemporary Art | "The Future of Penrith / Penrith of the Future" | Elizabeth Ann Macgregor |

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