Binns + Valamanesh: Casula Powerhouse


“Vivienne Binns and Hossein Valamanesh are mighty forces in the Australian contemporary art landscape. Their individual practices are uncompromising and evolving as both artists continually experiment with material, form and subject. Despite this ongoing evolution, spanning nearly half a century of art practice, an acutely individual visual language has pervaded each artist’s work, marking it as their own as instantly as a signature.”

I was first inspired to attend this exhibition (and specifically the launch on 18 July) after studying the work of Iranian-Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh during high school. From memory, we were studying Middle Eastern art at the time and my studies of art in high school had a particularly contemporary flavour to them for some reason. And I just happen to live around the corner from the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. And their Facebook page said that there was going to be some awesomely delicious Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine at the launch. So, you know….when in Casula

The artHossein Valamanesh

As with a lot of my other artsy posts like George Gittoes: I Witness and Vivid Sydney: Light, this post best speaks for itself through visuals, with some scattering of commentary. And how good am I – I even dug up some of my old pieces from Year 11 that I wrote about the artist. This is an extract from an essay I wrote about artists who use identity as a main theme in their work, just to set the scene of Valamanesh’s work for you:

Engaging the audience with the cultural meaning in his artworks is the intention of Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh. Migrating from Iran to Australia, Valamanesh’s work explores the cultural transition experienced in his personal journey, examining the elements of continuity that have arisen between his native heritage and new homeland in order to find his own sense of cultural identity. Working with modest, even primitive materials, Valamanesh represents ideas such as personal memory, cultural dislocation, loss, history and the relationship between man and the natural world, using his symbolic and mystical works to encourage interpretation by the viewer. In doing so, he intends for his works to be felt, rather than read, inviting his audience to share in the experience and contemplate with self as well as the environment.


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This is one of Valamanesh’s most striking and memorable pieces – Untitled (1999) – a lavender bush, taken from the artist’s own backyard, inverted and displayed with a small lit burner on top. The flame is able to release vaporous aromatic essences to engage viewers in contemplative thoughts of reverie and recollection and ultimately act as a cleansing instrument. Oh yep, I wrote that back in the day!


“The lover circles his own heart” (1994)

The lover circles his own heart (1994) was described by the artist in 2005 with the following statement – “The concept of the work connects with Rumi’s poetry, and while I’m interested in the philosophy of Sufism, I don’t follow it as a practice. I find the poetry more inspirational rather than as a guide or philosophy of life.”

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The Untouchable (1984)


“Mourning” (2007)


“Snakes and ladders #2” (2008)


“Here is Love” (2007)


“Guardian” (2010)

Vivienne Binns

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“Flapper bedraggled” (2014)


“Interior construction” (1967)


“Tower of Babel” (1989)

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Details and diagrams about the Tower of Babel


“Lino, Canberra and tile formation” (2000)


“God’s beard 10 drawings in 1 frame” (1990)


“This space can be rendered both” (1997)


The food

In keeping with the ethos of the night, some delicious cuisine was on offer with a particularly Middle Eastern touch. So delicious! On the menu was:

  • Chilli tomato prawns served on a bed of rice
  • Fillet of beef on a beetroot puree
  • Middle Eastern chicken served on a bed of tabbouli with a harissa yoghurt
  • Warm roasted pumpkin, feta and quinoa salad
  • Moroccan cauliflower with a sweet potato puree
  • Cauliflower bake
  • Lubieh
  • Sticky date pudding with whipped cream
  • Apple and rhubarb crumble with custard

Plus some wine, beer and a delicious, fruity mocktail that mum picked up with sliced green apple and fresh raspberries


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At the end of the exhibition you can put into practise the art you’ve absorbed and do some creative DIY


“BINNS + VALAMANESH tosses two of Australia’s heavyweights of contemporary art together and this seemingly unlikely pairing will be an aesthetic adventure into unchartered territory.”


Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

This exhibition is FREE and runs until 7 September

Exhibitions are open Monday to Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm (closed public holidays)

1 Powerhouse Road, Casula, NSW 2170 (Enter via Shepherd Street, Liverpool)

(02) 9824 1121




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