Image: Courtesy Constellations designer Huy Nguyen
7 November to 16 December 2023
The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre
Blacktown Arts are thrilled to announce Constellations, our final exhibition for 2023. Constellations is a celebration of collective and collaborative art practices on Dharug Country.
For the first time, Constellations brings together arts collectives that have been actively making and creating in Sydney’s west; The Adorned Collective, Arab Theatre Studio, Dance Makers Collective, The Finishing School, Opnsrc.co, Pari and We Are Studios.
With practices spanning dance, performance, literature, digital and visual arts, Constellations explores what it means to work collectively from and for western Sydney.
Constellations features an engaging public program of workshops and discussions about artistic and collective practice led by the collectives themselves.
Alongside, a publication featuring a series of commissioned essays and interviews accompanies the exhibition. Pick one up during your visit.
Constellations is curated by Tian Zhang with assistant curator A’isyiyah Prahastono.
Dharug Cultural Consultant: Erin Wilkins
Design: Huy Nguyen
Constellations working group: Marian Abboud, Maissa Alameddine, Gail Barclay, Liam Benson, Felicity Castagna, Celine Cheung, Alissar Chidiac, Ian ‘Esky’ Escandor, Eda Gunaydin, Emma Harrison, Hareen Johl, Dylan Mangunay, Louisa Minutillo, Nicole Oliveria, Sheila Pham, A’iysyiyah Prahastono, Marina Robins, Carl Sciberras, Ricky Tana, Jordan Valageorgiou, Ebony Wightman and Tian Zhang.
Join us for the Constellations Launch and Exhibition Opening
Thursday 9 November, 6 pm to 8 pm
Dance with Dance Makers Collective
Join us this Spring for a contemporary dance workshop with Dance Makers Collective (DMC).
Be guided by DMC to discover dance techniques, respond collectively to the Constellations exhibition and express yourself through movement in this safe and inclusive space.
Adults and young people ages 13+
All skill levels welcome.
Saturday 18 November
10.30 am to noon
Image: Dance Makers Collective, courtesy of the collective
Manifest with Arab Theatre Studio | Creatively Consciously Critically
Arab Theatre Studio invites artists, activists and organisers to manifest a vision for creative cultural action.
Drawing on critical readings and provocations, images and story, spend an immersive afternoon with Arab Theatre Studio collectively making banners, placards, collage and more.
All ages welcome
Saturday 18 November
2 pm to 5 pm
Image: Alissar Chidiac, Arab Theatre Studio, Open Dar, 2023
In the Exhibition with The Adorned Collective
Participate in a growing installation led by The Adorned Collective.
Drop in, pick up a piece of fabric and adorn it with unique materials. Connect with others and appreciate the collaborative process of making together, and think outside the box to create a special artwork.
Then, add your creation to a growing community installation by The Adorned Collective.
Wednesdays, 22 November and 6 December
1 pm to 3 pm
Free entry, drop in.
Image: The Adorned Collective, photo by Jacquie Manning
Write with The Finishing School | Writing Collaboratively
Finesse your writing skills with writers from The Finishing School.
Join Eda Gunaydin to unlock the potential of collective storytelling. Learn strategies to merge writing approaches and explore collaborative writing methods and styles.
Saturday 2 December
10.30 am to 1.00 pm
Image: Eda Gunaydin, courtesy of the artist
Let’s Make Charms Together with Pari
Pari artist Rainer Ciar invites you to sit down and enjoying the calm and meditative process of beading and sculpting.
Rainer will lead you through this two-hour workshop to make hanging charms, similar to the artist’s work, using accessible materials and basic jewellery-making skills – with time for everyone to chat and enjoy the tactility of different materials.
Participants are encouraged to bring beads or adornments from home if they wish.
Saturday 2 December
2 pm to 4 pm
Image: Rainer Ciar, courtesy of Document Photography
Make with Adorned Collective | Textile Craft
Join Adorned Collective to create your own textile artwork.
Adorn your square of fabric with beads, buttons, sequins, paint, and more or recreate it into something new entirely like a puppet or sculptural piece.
Take your special artwork home or add it to a collaborative work as part of Constellations, our final exhibition for 2023.
Saturday 9 December
10.30 am to noon
Image: The Adorned Collective, photo by Jacquie Manning
Salon des Refusés v.2 with Pari
Salon des Refusés is an invitation for individuals to question or rebel against power structures and authority through drag portraiture.
Immerse yourself in a three-hour workshop with Pari artist Bonnie Huang, to learn basic drag makeup skills and harness the limitless power of transformation, then take home a framed portrait of your new alter-ego.
Participants are encouraged to bring some makeup if they wish, such as foundation or base product, eyeliner and eye shadow palettes.
Saturday 9 December
1 pm to 4 pm
Image: Bonnie Huang, courtesy of Document Photography
The Adorned Collective meet and work on Dharug Country, and are based at Parramatta Artists’ Studios, Rydalmere. Adorned is a community group of artists and craftspeople from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who nurture connection through collaborative creative process and skill sharing workshops. The collective supports artists and makers of all abilities and experiences by providing a reciprocal creative space, where sharing creative practice nurtures a culture of community connection.
The Adorned Collective was formed in 2015 with the support of Parramatta Artists’ Studios, WEAVE Parramatta and the Community Migrant Resource Centre. The community of artists, artisans, makers and craftspeople participate fortnightly in supported drop-in skill sharing workshops and public programs. Within the workshops, participants collaborate and share creative process, stories and skills as a process of professional development and community capacity building.
Adorned welcomes and supports First Nations, newly arrived, migrant, refugee and locally established people, through maintaining a culturally safe and accessible space. Adorned welcomes and supports people who identify as women, queer, trans and non-binary by acknowledging and respecting queer and gender diverse community. The Adorned collective includes local and remote participants (regional NSW and QLD) who hold past and present connection to Burramatta/ Parramatta.
Between 2015 and 2020, The Adorned collective has developed and exhibited solo and collaborative sculptures, wearable art, photographic, performance, installation and multimedia work. As well as developing and exhibiting artwork, the Adorned artists utilise each exhibition and project as a way of engaging community through public programs and creative workshops.
Image: The Adorned Collective by Jacquie Manning
Arab Theatre Studio (ATS) (est. 2014) is a small independent artist-led Arab arts and cultural organisation on Dharug Country. We ground our thinking and practice in the principles of First Nations First. We engage and collaborate with artists from diverse backgrounds, inclusive of first, second and third generations, and emerging, developing, and established creatives.
Our activities include artist gatherings, collaborative live performances, music jams and concerts, supporting and mentoring artists, book launches, critical talks, bilingual kids arts workshops, creative solidarity interventions, visual art installations and digital media works.
Image: courtesy of Arab Theatre Studio
Dance Makers Collective (DMC), based on Dharug country, is the only collective-led dance company in Australia. With a mission to build dance communities, DMC brings people together by working with and between dance theatre, contemporary dance and social dance, producing heartfelt dance works that reflect the diverse, personal experiences of Australians.
Established in 2012, DMC has presented 17 dance productions, in theatres, halls, galleries, parks, street corners, balconies, on YouTube and Instagram, in cities and towns in almost every state and territory. Recent highlights include a national regional tour of ‘The Rivoli’ (2022) and presenting two sold-out seasons in successive Sydney Festivals (2020/21).
DMC are a democratic organisation of independent artists who live the mantra the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They are skilled performers, choreographers, producers, designers, educators and composers. They have worked/work with companies such as ADT, Marrugeku, Bangarra, Force Majeure, Tasdance, Chunky Move, Dancenorth and Restless Dance Theatre, and hundreds of independent artists. Their individual experiences and practices feed DMC, enriching the art they make and the services they offer to the community.
DMC is both a producer and a service organisation, and they do both exceptionally well. Their dedicated core membership of ten dance makers, who form the artistic directorate, co-design and deliver projects and programs in response to the needs of the wider community. It is our unique democratic structure, expansive network, openness, and commitment to shared practice that sets us apart. These qualities make DMC a nimble, resilient and impactful organisation shaping a better future for Australian dance.
Image: courtesy of Dance Makers Collective
The Finishing School is a collective of women writers dedicated to creative excellence and exploration.
They are inspired by and responsive to the communities and concerns of western Sydney, but their gaze extends far beyond its psychogeographic boundaries. The Finishing School have a radical commitment to making honest work. They individually pursue their own projects as well as collaborate with other writers and artists on literary projects, cross-artform installations and performances.
Image: courtesy of The Finishing School
Opnsrc.co (opnsrc.co / Open Source) is a community-centric organisation that connects creatives, leaders, and organisations together to up-skill our collective communities.
Established in 2018 as a grassroots initiative by western Sydney locals, aiming to foster and develop the burgeoning creative culture within their community. Initially focused on organising social events, Opnsrc.co has since evolved to emphasising professional development, resource sharing, and collaboration through community workshops and software development.
Image: courtesy of Opnsrc.
Pari is an artist-run space where people and communities come together to talk, think, learn and do. Art and artists are at the core of Pari’s activities: they believe that artists play a vital role in processing and reflecting the important issues of our time. Reflecting the social, the political and the deeply personal, Pari’s program draws out ideas that are particular to their location in Parramatta in western Sydney, on unceded Dharug land, and that resonate well beyond the local.
Pari will facilitate the space, but what they are will be defined by the people who show, the people who come and look and listen, the conversations that happen, the things that get said and thought and reconsidered.
Operating since 2019, Pari is currently run by Jane Asher, Celine Cheung, Rainer Ciar, Hayley Coghlan, Kalanjay Dhir, Rebecca Gallo, Fei Gao, Hareen Johl, Samuel Kirby, Naomi Segal, Brenton Alexander Smith, Joel Sherwood Spring, Alexander Tanazefti, Amy Toma and Tian Zhang.
We Are Studios was established in 2023 by a community of artists with disability who believe that disability inclusion can and should start with us.
The first of its kind, We Are Studios is a fully disability-led, inclusive studio that empowers artists with disability to reach their creative potential by creating space to thrive.
The team have experienced first-hand the barriers people living with disability face in accessing accessible arts education, professional development pathways, and the opportunities needed to build a thriving and sustainable creative practice.
They address these barriers by providing mentorship, networking and professional development opportunities to creatives with disability across western Sydney and advocating for their inclusion within the contemporary creative arts sector.
Based on Dharug Country in western Sydney, Tian Zhang is an independent curator, facilitator, writer and collaborative artist working at the intersections of art, cultural practice and social change. Her practice is underscored by conversation, criticality, solidarity and joy.
In 2022, Tian participated in documenta fifteen as co-facilitator of Gudskul’s collective studies program — living, cooking, eating, cleaning and communing within the Museum Fridericianum for 50 days. Her text A manifesto for radical care or how to be a human in the arts was published online by Sydney Review of Books, with print editions by documenta fifteen’s Lumbung Press and Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Canada.
With a deep commitment to grassroots and collective methodologies, Tian is a founding co-director of Pari, a collective-run gallery for Parramatta. She was previously part of the inaugural Artistic Directorate of Next Wave, and Chair and co-director at Firstdraft.
Image: Tian Zhang by Zan Wimberley. Courtesy of Firstdraft, Sydney.
A’isyiyah Prahastono is a mother of two and owner of Lawan Catering, a homecooked Indonesian food business based on Bidjigal Land. Currently, they are an assistant curator for Tian Zhang and have worked on programs such as The Way We Eat at the Art Gallery of NSW, and Songlines and Sightlines at Blacktown Arts. Previously they have worked for ACON Health as a Community Health Promotion Officer delivering peer education workshops. They believe in building strong communities through sharing joy, food, knowledge and skills.
This exhibition is presented by Blacktown Arts and supported by Blacktown City Council and the NSW Government through Create NSW.