2021 The Finishing School Collective & Marian Abboud

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2021 - 31st December, 2021

In 2021, our Creative in Residence embarked on a community-led project that investigated and responded to the unique architecture and spaces of our Library. Over and between many lockdowns from 2021-2022 visual artist Marian Abboud and writers Felicity Castagna, Eda Gunaydin and Sheila Ngọc Phạm set out to create a unique, collaborative response to the architecture and space of the UTS Library.

During the residency, Space and Light engaged with students to respond to Library spaces through creative writing workshops. There was also a series of live ‘performances’ which involved Castagna, Gunaydin and Phạm projecting their research and writing process onto large screens as they each wrote an original piece of Creative Nonfiction exploring their response to both being in the place and researching the history of libraries and urban architecture.

In consultation with the writers, sections from the essays were printed on fabric and designed into an installation which saw sentences climb up the large spiralling staircase; sewn into fabrics that fell dramatically between the floors of the UTS Library; and which appeared in smaller form around seats, windows, tables and shelves around the Library. Space and Light explored the significance of UTS Library, its unique architecture and the way people are using it. Read the full essays here

About the artists 

The Finishing School is an arts collective of women writers dedicated to creative excellence and exploration. Based in western Sydney, their work is inspired by and responsive to the communities and concerns of the area and beyond. As a collective they are committed to creating honest stories that create connections, propel conversations and encourage reflection. Felicity Castagna, Eda Gunaydin and Sheila Ngoc Pham are three award winning writers who form part of the Finishing School’s core directorship and who will be representing the collective on this project. 

Marian Abboud is a multi-disciplinary artist who works across various technologies to create projected images that feed into performance, installation and site-specific works. Marian creates complex narratives from engaging with the community to build multi-layered works. Her art seeks to challenge perceptions of the land we inhabit and its complex historical and cultural narratives. The Finishing School and Marian Abboud have considerable experience collaborating together to create research-led installations that are playful, complex and invite audiences to participate in thoughtful and meaningful interactions with art. 

The making of the fabric installation was a collaboration with Afrah Al-hakeem ميكحلا حارفا , Intesar AL-Zuhairi يريهزلا راصتنإ , Lka Aufi يفوع ءاقل and Rafa Radhi يضار افر from The Seed of Hope Collective, a part of Think+DO Tank Foundation.

Space and Light was created for UTS Library’s 2021 Creative in Residence by Felicity Castagna, Eda Gunaydin, Sheila Ngọc Phạm and Marian Abboud. This project was created in collaboration with expertise from UTS Library staff: project management by Sascha Jenkins, Tess Hobbis and Daniel Hamilton; art curation and guidance by Karina Glasby and Mia Turner; book design and execution of text installations by Megan Wong.