Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
04 Sep 2008 to 19 Oct 2008
Heads Up was a new body of work created by Brisbane-based artist Craig Walsh, which resulted from a residency and collaboration with renowned Western Sydney Rugby League football club Penrith Panthers. Craig Walsh often works with people and sites removed from the traditional realms of art galleries. Invited by C3West to collaborate with the Panthers, Walsh set out to explore the traditions of this 50 year old Rugby League club and the important role the people of Panthers – footballers, fans, club management, staff, members and local families and residents – play in contributing to and defining the Penrith community.
The project involved documenting Panthers players and supporters minutes after the final whistle of the four first home games of the 2008 NRL season. A mobile studio was set up at the CUA Stadium, Penrith and working with Sydney photographer Josh Raymond, the artist invited players and supporters to face the camera.
With intense focus and unsettling calm, elite athletes and sports fans alike sat for their portraits. A total of seventeen photographic portraits – the number of players in a team – were selected for the exhibition, all taken following games the Panthers lost. Struggling with feelings of disappointment, the faces revealed a range of subtle, yet powerful qualities, such as individual pride, determination, commitment, strength and personal dignity.
The artist also incorporated a sound component in the exhibition space. Recorded from different points around the CUA Stadium over an entire game, the complex layers of sound infiltrated the photographs and brought to the exhibition a sense of the dynamic context in which the game is played. Voices from on and off the field, stadium sound effects, commentary, advertising and the coach’s briefing were all heard throughout the exhibition space.
Heads Up was developed for C3West, an innovative long term project that seeks ways of bringing together culture, commerce and the community. C3West provides a channel for businesses in Western Sydney to engage with artists in ways which facilitate their business aims as well as creating opportunities for visual artists to produce new work. The project is managed by cultural partners Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Penrith Regional Art Gallery & the Lewers Bequest; Casula Powerhouse, Liverpool; Campbelltown Arts Centre and the University of Western Sydney.
Heads Up was the first project from C3West to be presented in a gallery context.
Heads Up: A C3West project by Craig Walsh was supported by Panthers Entertainment Group and the National Rugby League.