SBS launches Punchbowl exhibition

14 November 2013

News Release

SBS presents The Heart of Punchbowl, a major exhibition that looks into the intimate and rarely seen lives of Lebanese Australians living in Punchbowl in Sydney’s south-west. Commissioned as part of SBS’s Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl series, the exhibition features large scale portraits and extracts of personal conservations between nine pairs of people, exploring everything from love, death, food and family.

The exhibition showcases content by acclaimed photographer Andrew Quilty and accomplished journalist Jackie Dent, who spent months researching and getting to know the pairs featured in the exhibition. The result is a loving snapshot of Australian Lebanese living in Punchbowl, capturing their vibrancy and diversity.

The pairs include fun-loving friends Charbel and Charbel who regularly feed the homeless; Wasim and Zeina, a married couple that run the Muslim section of Rookwood cemetery; and international boxing sensation Billy the Kid and his cousin Reyad.

Journalist Jackie Dent said: “While on the surface this exhibition is about exploring the lives of the community in Punchbowl, on a deeper level it is also about people and how they love each other, which is something we all connect with.”

Photographer Andrew Quilty said: " The warmth with which we were invited into people's homes and lives attested to the Lebanese reputation for hospitality. Without such generosity there'd have been no way that we'd have been able to gain such an intimate and privileged perspective on the community and some of its individuals.

In addition to the photography exhibition, SBS will take this rich local story to the nation by featuring it online from 25th November at sbs.com.au/heartofpunchbowl and in a commemorative book.

The exhibition is produced in partnership with aMBUSH Gallery.

The Heart of Punchbowl
10am – 4pm
Friday 22 November & Saturday 23 November
Bankstown Arts Centre, 5 Olympic Parade, Bankstown

About Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl
Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl is a four-part landmark documentary series about Australia’s Lebanese community that will air on SBS in January 2014.

This story starts in the 1970s when large numbers of Lebanese migrants arrived in Australia, many of them Muslim, looking to build a better future. Over the coming decades, these new Australians worked hard to establish a new life in their adopted country, but domestic and global events challenged and divided the community. The Gulf War, September 11, the Bali bombings, and "ethnic" crimes by persons of "Middle Eastern appearance" all led to the stereotyping of primarily Lebanese young men, which when inflamed by the media, culminated in the Cronulla Riots.

Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl
is the inside story, told by those on the ground, of the challenges the community has faced in Australia, and how they have fought to overcome them. Community leaders, police, families and individuals, combine to tell the compelling and dramatic story of a proud and resilient community, under intense pressure and scrutiny.

About Andrew Quilty
Andrew Quilty is an award winning photojournalist based between New York and Sydney. He has won a World Press Photo Award and the inaugural Walkley Young Australian Photojournalist of The Year Award. Along with numerous solo exhibitions Quilty’s work has been collected by private and public institutions including The National Library of Australia and The Museum of Sydney. He is widely known for his black & white images of the Cronulla Riots in December 2005 and for his work as a staff photographer at Fairfax Media. In recent years, Quilty has been regularly commissioned by The New York Times, Time Magazine, GEO, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, and numerous other Australian and International publications.

About Jackie Dent

Jackie Dent is a journalist who has worked locally and internationally for a number of media organisations including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bulletin, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Monocle, the Guardian, Reuters and the British Broadcasting Corporation. She was a spokesperson for the United Nations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Ossetia and a speechwriter at the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines.  She is currently supervising producer for the Ted x Talks in Sydney and an active volunteer for Skateistan, an NGO. She writes fiction in her spare time and is represented by Curtis Brown Literary Agency.

About Ambush Gallery:
aMBUSH has an influence on the creative and cultural development in Australia that extends beyond the four walls of its Sydney exhibition space. Instigating and collaborating on both philanthropic and commercial initiatives, aMBUSH is committed to developing the relationship between contemporary Australian art and its audiences through innovative and progressive art-based projects. A multi award winning art gallery, aMBUSH has contributed significantly to the cultural prowess of metropolitan and regional Australia through projects such as Outpost Project at Cockatoo Island and Project Five, as well as via the support of the emerging and established artists who grace the walls of the gallery space year-round.