On the Fringes

Special Collections Showcase
2nd May, 2022 - 30th September, 2022
UTS Central

On the Fringes was a display of selected works from Therese Sweeney’s multimedia project of the same name, which documented the social and cultural history of local southwest Sydney communities in the 90’s and early 00’s. 

Sweeney’s collection provides intimate glimpses into day-to-day life on the outskirts of Sydney. Despite the diversely rich cultures and traditions depicted within her collection, Sweeney draws attention to the universally shared theme of belonging present in each household and community in her images. 

On the Fringes is Sweeney’s contribution and celebration of her local Green Valley community. 

“My motivation was to challenge and redress the long history of negative press and social research depicting my community of origin as bleak and desperate. I aimed to produce images that were born out of collaboration, research, respect and relationship with residents." - Therese Sweeney, photographer. 

The exhibition displayed a series of snapshots from Sweeney’s collection, transported into life-like scenes with which the audience could engage. As we moved through the exhibition space, we were granted a rare insight into the domestic life of each individual depicted in the images and grasped how they connected with the world around them.   

The space asked us to notice the places, people, and relationships that seem familiar or challenge us, to compare the past and the present, and to reflect on what connection and community looks like today.  

The exhibition also hosted work from South-west Sydney artist Tom Yousif. Building upon the concepts of connection and community explored in Sweeney’s images, Yousif partook in live art installation, creating a piece that aims to draw parallels between the modern-day suburban streetscapes of his home suburb Green Valley, to the processional way of the ancient city of Babylon. 

Collaboratively, the exhibition drew attention to the impact major world events, technological advances and drastic changes in societal behaviour have in altering our experiences of the world from decade to decade whilst some universal truths continue to stay the same: we all yearn to belong.  

Sweeney's historical snapshots of the vast community and Yousif’s artistic expression of his personal experience challenged you to reflect on what personal connection and community looks like today. 

Therese Sweeney: In 1991, Sweeney left her job as a Senior Policy Analysist in pursuit of a more creative outlet. She went back to her community of Green Valley, picked up a camera with no prior experience in the practice of photography, wrote to the mayor to inform him of her mission, and her journey began.
Tom Yousif: Born 1994 in South West Sydney where he currently lives and works Yousif completed his Master of Fine Art degree in 2018 majoring in painting at the National Art School, Sydney. Yousif’s practice incorporates his interest in the flat opaque surface finish you can achieve from rolling house paint with an interplay in technological processes within the conventional perimeters of painting with the use of computer software and commercial vinyl cutting equipment.