The City of Plenty shares its wealth

The donated goods from the City of Plenty installation are distributed and the City of Plenty Benefit Dinner celebrates the project raising funds for Penrith Community Kitchen and OzHarvest.

Representatives from  Penrith Community Kitchen collecting goods from the City of Plenty

Representatives from Penrith Community Kitchen collecting goods from the City of Plenty

While the City of Plenty has now vanished, its legacy continues.  City of Plenty has made contributions through the practical distribution of goods and funds to support those in need. This week, the city was dismantled and the goods packed and taken by representatives from Penrith Community Kitchen and OzHarvest.

Volunteers from Penrith Community Kitchen were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Penrith Community. During the course of this short month long project, over 20,000 worth of goods were donated and funds from the City of Plenty Benefit Dinner will go to providing an estimated 14,000 meals.

Curator Michael Do assists with the delivery of goods from City of Plenty to OzHarvest

Curator Michael Do assists with the delivery of goods from City of Plenty to OzHarvest

Loading the distinctive yellow vans of OzHarvest

Loading the distinctive yellow vans of OzHarvest

Ronni Kahn, founder of OzHarvest and guest speaker at the Benefit dinner, noted that small acts of generosity can combine to have a huge and lasting impact. Kahn’s inspiring address outlined many of the practical projects that the OzHarvest organisation has initiated to help those in need and provide lasting ways of improving their lives. The Benefit Dinner was an evening to celebrate the culmination of this project with wonderful food provided by chefs Steve Grant and Travis Harvey and the staff at Cafe at Lewers and served by hospitality students from Western Sydney TAFE.

City of Plenty has shown what is possible through the generosity of many within a community and the ways that cultural institutions such as Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest play an active role in their local community. Let’s hope that the lasting legacy of this project is continued awareness and support of all of the local agencies that support others in need.

http://www.ozharvest.org/

Gallery Director Dr Lee-Anne Hall, artist Sarah Goffman, OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn and Penrith MP Stuart Ayres at the Benefit dinner

Gallery Director Dr Lee-Anne Hall, artist Sarah Goffman, OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn and Penrith MP Stuart Ayres at the Benefit dinner

The setting for the Benefit Dinner attended by over 70 people

The setting for the City of Plenty Benefit Dinner attended by over 70 people

Artist Bronwyn Berman, Gallery director Dr Lee-Anne Hall and Hania Radvan, CEO, Penrith Performing and Visual Arts Ltd supporting the Benefit Dinner

Artist Bronwyn Berman, gallery director Dr Lee-Anne Hall and Hania Radvan, CEO, Penrith Performing and Visual Arts Ltd supporting the City of Plenty Benefit Dinner

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ALDI Australia and many others contribute to build a City of Plenty

City of Plenty was able to grow from all of the generous donations. Photo: Phoebe Anderson

City of Plenty was able to grow from all of the generous donations. Photo: Phoebe Anderson

City of Plenty has been fortunate to have a range of wonderful sponsors who have all donated so much to make this installation possible. Donations have come in all shapes and sizes from large donations from supermarkets such as ALDI Australia and other corporate donors such Freedom Foods and Campbell Arnotts to donations of over $3000 from local schools and community groups as well as many donations quietly added by individuals as they came to visit the gallery.

As the largest donor, ALDI Australia was proud to partner with Penrith City Council for the Penrith Regional Gallery’s City of Plenty art installation project. ALDI donated nearly $6000 worth of popular household products that will feature within the installation. Everything from chicken noodles, tomato sauce, tinned peaches, toilet paper, coffee and toothbrushes has been incorporated into Sarah Goffman’s installation.

ALDI Australia supports the social conscience of the City of Plenty initiative, which was brought to life by artist Sarah Goffman. City of Plenty is the latest in ALDI’s support of charitable initiatives. Since 2003, ALDI Australia has supported Barnardos and the commendable work that they undertake to help Australian families and improve the lives of children.

ALDI Australia believes it is important to recognise and act upon obligations to the wider Australian community. With this in mind, ALDI also partners with Oz Harvest and Foodbank, to make sure that safe and nutritious food that cannot be sold can be put to good use. In 2014 ALDI Australia donated 673,097 kilos of food (the equivalent of 1.8 million meals), which OzHarvest were able to distribute to Australians in need.

For the City of Plenty Benefit Dinner, the delicious food was provided by a range of other generous sponsors producing high quality food in our local area including food from Cana Farm, Morgan’s Coffee, Zokoko Chocolates and from the Central West, Windowrie Wines.

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Penrith Community Kitchen

Goffman's Campbell-seum of chicken and barley soup could be the start of delicious meals at Penrith Community Kitchen. Photo: K. King

Goffman’s “Campbell-seum” of chicken and barley soup could be the start of delicious meals at Penrith Community Kitchen. Photo: K. King

By Chloe Godwin, Kyla Reynolds and Skye Tranfa

Penrith Community Kitchen is a local initiative that serves free, nutritional meals to those in the community who are disadvantaged or struggling financially. They are open five days a week, including public holidays. They serve hot meals to approximately 80 people per day with 189 meals being the most served in a single day.

Penrith Community Kitchen receives no local, state or government funding and so relies purely on the donations of individuals, schools and universities and groups in the communities. They also rely on volunteers of all ages to help serve meals every night. This not-for-profit organisation, running daily, is only here due to the generosity of the local and wider community.

During June and July each year, students of Caroline Chisholm Collage make this agency the focus of their ‘Winter Appeal’ and students bring in hundreds of various items to give to this great initiative. Different year groups are assigned pasta and rice or tins of tomatoes or tuna. Like the donations in the City of Plenty project, this is an example of how small gestures by lots of individuals can make a difference and enable this charity to keep serving meals.

Penrith Community Kitchen is a key community partner of the City of Plenty. Once the City Of Plenty project is finished, much of the donated food will be given to Penrith Community Kitchen to be made into delicious meals and then distributed to those in need in the local area. Penrith Community Kitchen is yet another generous community initiative that the City of Plenty project has been able to shine a light on and make us aware of these daily good deeds.

Items from the demolition of Pasta Tower could become part of the menu at Penrith Community Kitchen. Photo: K.King

Items from the demolition of Pasta Tower could become part of the menu at Penrith Community Kitchen. Photo: K.King

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City reflections: A month full of artistic growth.

Students from Caroline Chisholm College with Gallery Director, Dr Lee-Anne Hall, artist Sarah Goffman and Visual Arts teacher, Karen King.

Isabella on far left with students from Caroline Chisholm College with Gallery Director, Dr Lee-Anne Hall, artist Sarah Goffman and Visual Arts teacher, Karen King.

Isabella Richardson, one of the students in the Education project from Caroline Chisholm College reflected on her month of artistic growth working with artist Sarah Goffman in the City of Plenty project

“If you don’t take risks, you’re not going anywhere” was one of the first things I heard Sarah Goffman say at the very first briefing for the project. I knew at that moment that this was going to be an interesting month.

The City of Plenty is a creative and fresh installation and Goffman’s attention to colour and juxtaposition of text and product create areas of interest that have given a new light to the problem that is poverty, homelessness and hunger.

So far, I have learnt many things from Sarah Goffman; that Penrith Regional Gallery is home to discussion about issues, that community means all and that it is important to be forthright with your ideas. Even if you are planning to make a city of tin cans, or a tower of noodles, you should never restrict yourself artistically.

Adding final donations for the City of Plenty. Photo: Roisin Cairney

Adding final donations for the City of Plenty. Photo: Chloe Godwin

There has been a lot of talk and questions as relating to the work as it progressed. Many locals would ask myself and other Caroline Chisholm students while working in the space with Goffman about the project and were intrigued by the nature of this installation. People appreciated the idea that we are giving back to the community and spreading awareness at the same time. Sarah Goffman also mentioned that children are finding it fascinating as well. “The children were inspired by the signs on the wall” she says “I had one child make a sign for herself it read: ‘Feed your enemies’. Personally, I though that was great”

Being involved in the City of Plenty project is an experience to remember and it has been a privilege to be able to work with artist, Sarah Goffman. I was honoured to have been part of it.

Signs to raise awareness. Photo: K.King

Signs to raise awareness. Photo: K.King

Being involved in the City of Plenty project is an experience to remember and I was honoured to have been part of it.

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Metropolis

Artist Sarah Goffman makes final adjustments to the chocolate "penthouse". Photo: K King

Artist Sarah Goffman makes final adjustments to the chocolate “penthouse”. Photo: K King

The City of Plenty is thriving and continued to grow as Sarah Goffman made her final adjustments in the last week of her residency. The citizens of Penrith and beyond have taken this new metropolis to their hearts and adopted dual citizenship through their generous donations. The wealth of this city has grown now to an estimated $20,000 of food donated by individual and a variety of local groups, schools and companies.

Artist Sarah Goffman has transformed these donations into suburban sprawl, shrines, and skycrapers of spaghetti. There are different cultural precincts, gardens and plenty of play areas. Goffman invites us to wander through the ‘boulevards’ of the City of Plenty but, as with any city, it is in the chance discoveries or from time spent getting to know a place that you start to see the complex character of a city.

Japanese style offerings on tatami reflecting Goffman's connections to Japan from her residencies there. Photo. K.King

Japanese style offerings on tatami reflecting Goffman’s connections to Japan from her residencies there. Photo. K.King

Word play, contradiction and juxtaposition of colour, image and forms are used by Goffman in her witty and thought-provoking vignettes that, at times, reflect personal connections as well as challenging our assumptions about our social use of food. While beans, tuna and tinned spaghetti have been the staples of the suburban sprawl, Goffman observed with surprise that the high end of town in the form of luxury items such as biscuits and chocolate were in short supply, supplementing the donations with a few ‘penthouse’ blocks of chocolate. She noted that these items were just as important as a regular hot meal to those in need. “Sitting down and sharing a cup of tea with a biscuit offers much needed company and comfort” said Goffman.

The installation City of Plenty will be in place till March 29th.

Great things come in small bags. Photo: K.King

Great things come in small bags. Photo: K.King

City views. Photo K.King

City views. Photo Roisin Cairney

Metros and maps. Photo: K.King

Goffman juxtaposes found objects from the gallery site with maps and donated goods. Photo: K.King

Small vignettes dot the "City of Plenty". Photo: K.King

Small vignettes dot the “City of Plenty”. Photo: K.King

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Farming for a future: Cana Farm, Orchard Hills

Cana Farm products. Source: http://www.cana.org.au/events/farm-markets

Cana Farm products. Source: http://www.cana.org.au/events/farm-markets

by Mikaylee Dawson

For the marginalised, disadvantaged and the needy, Cana Communities through the work of their non profit branch Cana Farm in Orchard Hills, aims to provide support and assistance to those in Western Sydney who need it most.

Cana Farm provides experiences for those who are less advantaged to seek training that sets them up for better opportunities in the work force. The farm now runs courses that focus on personal development and interaction with other people as well as TAFE certificate courses, providing participants with qualifications. The courses allow people to gain skills needed for work in a hands-on farm environment.

Cana Farm has formed partnerships with various community groups including psychiatric hospitals and prisons. Cana Farm first started working with these groups in 2013 to boost community involvement in the farm. The calm environment at the farm allows people to build friendships and support networks. The Cana Farm initiative was designed as a welcoming environment where people can interact and seek help from community members that wish to support them.

Cana Farm runs market days where you can buy organic produce and visit their café. The farm produces a boutique range of saleable food items, which are available for sale at Penrith Regional Gallery. For the Benefit City of Plenty Dinner at Penrith Regional Gallery on Monday 23rd March, Cana Farm will be supplying some of the produce used for this feast.

Cana Farm is the winner of 2 Australasian awards for Sustainability of Community and Outreach Education. The dedicated volunteers who run the courses at the farm are the reason Cana Farm believes they have been awarded these honours. Without the work of their volunteers, Cana Farm would never have changed this many peoples’ outlook on life and ultimately played a role in building a stronger community.

For more information visit their webpage http://www.cana.org.au/

Cana Farm products. Source: http://www.cana.org.au/events/farm-markets

Cana Farm products. Source: http://www.cana.org.au/events/farm-markets

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A conversation with the “Mayor of Plenty”, curator Dr Lee Anne Hall

Dr Lee-Anne Hall in Ancher House, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest. Photo: Daily Telegraph.

Dr Lee-Anne Hall in Ancher House, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest. Photo: Daily Telegraph.

In the final days of the City of Plenty installation, students Kathleen Sta Ana and Brooke Vincent had an opportunity to talk to Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest Director, Dr Lee-Anne Hall to discuss her ideas and perspective as the curator of this initiative.

Hall said she was “very, very pleased and very excited” to finally bring an idea to life after two years since the idea was first aired. Hall also noted that Penrith Regional Gallery has a history of putting on exhibitions that focus on “social intent” and “seek to engage the community and issues or ideas,” and the City of Plenty project was part of that natural development of ideas in the rich thirty-five years of history of the gallery.

“Over two years ago, Sarah Goffman did an exhibit for us… called Plastici.” Hall recalled. “Sarah is very well known for working with waste. [She] creates beautiful things and her work demands you look at the waste or rubbish in a totally different way.”

“I observed [Goffman] creating [Plastici] in Lewers House … it was very serendipitous in the way it came together. I approached her with [the idea for City of Plenty]. While Goffman expressed interest at that time, Hall recalled that the idea kept “burbling away” as both parties waited for the right time to begin the exhibition. An opportunity presented itself in a one month gap in the 2015 program which then became home to the City of Plenty. This timeframe also coincided with Lent, “a period of people already thinking about of what they have and where they might give, and being very aware of themselves as individuals that live within a broader community, a community of riches, and also needs and what our part as individuals is in that.” As Hall said, “Like all good things, sometimes fate plays the better hand and … that’s the case with [City of Plenty].”

Hall’s personal interests and scholarship in art have revolved around “political issues and political art, indigenous art and the politics around that” and admits that she is “really fortunate as [City of Plenty] was an idea that I got to run with.”

“I made a call that this could be really good for [Penrith Regional Gallery], where it might have a great flow on effects and benefits for those in direct need. It will bring the community together and engage people purposely inside the exhibition spaces … It’s a portal or a pathway in understanding an array of things around us as our humanity.”

One of the key features of this project has been Hall’s decision to engage a range of partners in this collaborative community project. “We brought many different partners together; from the larger donors to people out in the cafe that might bring cans. Partners like the Penrith Press, who are interested in promoting what we are doing, … to the schools such as Caroline Chisholm College and St Dominic’s College.” Hall explained, continuing to reiterate the importance of these partnerships. “[We’re] building relationships, building co-response, it’s building a future in terms of loyalty and engagement for [Penrith Regional Gallery], but also in the marketplace of ideas.

“Partnerships have been really important, bringing the community together … It all impacts upon the relations [we] have”

Hall talked further about the ideas about food that are at the heart of the City of Plenty project.

“[City of Plenty is] about food, it’s about food security, it’s about need, it’s about wealth, it’s about waste, it’s about greed. [Goffman] has built a city with satellites and vignettes. Small stories have appeared in the build” Hall observed that Goffman is telling us many stories about the role of food in our communities, personal stories about food in her quirky self portraits as well as stories about cultural diversity or the ways that we desire or consume food and its potential effect on us as a society. Hall observed that Goffman’s “works are asking you to look differently and around issues of great concern. We are coming to the world’s end resources… [and the work asks us ] what are we going to do about it?”

On reflecting on the progress of the installation over the past month, Hall states that she is “greedy for it to be bigger.”

“Whatever happens will always be a commentary of the generosity of our community or the commentary of the lack of generosity or lack of giving … what that says about us as people – the idea of ‘Am I not my brother’s keeper?’ It’s saying both. We really had to pursue donations and it’s taught us a lot about running a gallery. It’s about convincing others of the worth, convincing other people how their participation will make a difference …  Really make a difference.”

Though the City of Plenty is coming to an end, Hall says that “[City of Plenty] has encouraged me about what’s going on … We’ve had our eyes open to partnerships like Penrith Community Kitchen, Cana Farm, Mulgoa Farm, Food Bank and OzHarvest … It’s allowed us to think about how [Penrith Regional Gallery] might work with schools, not just about ‘Come and see our new exhibition.’ It’s about how students and teachers get the opinion to shape what we are doing and the nature of it … about how they tell the story back into the community. It’s not just about an art project, but a project of giving”.

Curator Lee-Anne Hall ended the interview by thanking the many partners involved with the City of Plenty project and the two schools that organised and ran the blog; Caroline Chisholm College and St Dominic’s. She extended the thanks to all those who contributed to the installation with their donations of non-perishable food items or household goods and to those who visit the installation as it has grown in the main gallery space.

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