Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Youth - THE WESTIES



Art quickly becomes all about space. Space to create ideas, spaces to make work in, safe spaces to share and contribute and grow. Sometimes though, it’s hard to know where to start and that can be a real block to creativity. Enter CPAC Youth, a youth-run organisation dedicated to giving their local community a chance to come and create work, exhibit work and be part of the process. We sat down with Phu, Youth Facilitator at CPAC (Casula Powerhouse Arts Center) ahead of the groups workshops being held at The Plot this weekend, to talk art and accessibility in Western Sydney…





Image supplied by CPAC Youth

“We tell the youth, we want you to achieve something higher, reach for your goals.”


The Westies – Tell me about CPAC Youth, how did it get started?

Phu – CPAC youth, started around late 2011. Our main goal is to have youth come in and feel like they’re needed somewhere and to help develop their skills.

We usually meet once a month, but when there’s an event on we meet more regularly. This year we were able to exhibit two exhibitions here. We had one called ‘What’s the meaning of this’ centered around meaning which turned out really well and the other one was ‘Into the Collection’, for that our director Craig asked us to curate an exhibition from what we have in the collection, which is over 5,000 artworks.

The Westies – How did you become involved in The Arts in Western Sydney?

Phu – I was a youth member at PCYC in Liverpool, just making art and shit, and my friend was like, “hey come to this meeting” so I thought, “why not?” From there, I just wanted to stay here and make art, and I became part of the family, now I’m running it.

I used to live up the road in Miller, I’ve always been in this area. Growing up in my neighbourhood, it’s not the greatest suburb, it was very limited to accessing any workshops like CPAC offers. Now, being able to teach people what’s around and what resources are available, is really important.

I take out my own time to watch these guys [CPAC Youth group] do what they want to do. I do this from the heart. I don’t get paid to do any of the organising, I love to see people achieving what they want, that’s just me.



Image supplied by CPAC Youth


The Westies – So tell me what’s happening at The Plot

Phu – The group have thrown heaps of ideas on the table! We think we’re going to do some badge making and flower crowns, quick workshops that people can come in and do on the day. They can draw their own badges, make things for themselves.


The Westies – Do you remember when you first got into art?

Phu – Yeah, I remember drawing a little fish in Crayola [laughs]. My family has a fisherman background. My dads side are fisherman and I remember seeing my dad working on boats and stuff. I really liked fish, so that’s what I drew.

Ever since then I’ve had people around me pushing me to do more art, which is great. I had teachers who were really supportive and it grew from there. I stopped only because I didn’t have anyone to mentor me. It was only at the end of highschool I started pushing towards art again.

Straight after high school my teacher saw me doing some artsy stuff and she threw me into the PCYC where I started doing some exhibitions. We had a few curated exhibitions and that’s where I met Khaled, he pushed me to do some street art murals and stuff. He was a great mentor for me to push me towards doing more art and yeah I just started doing some murals here and there and started creating some things.



“Its that feeling that you want to achieve something and execute it really well, and we have.

With the youth group, I’m always trying to push them towards things they want to do and want to achieve.”



The Westies – What does art mean to you?

Phu – Just fun, that joy of seeing people’s reactions. Early last year I did a mural for a daycare center. I did this Winnie the Pooh style mural but I never got to see the reaction from the audience. But she [the lady who commissioned the work] told me that all the employees and kids were just so happy to see the work, and that pushes me to do more art like that.


Interview: Katrina James

Photos: Katrina James 

This post is sponsored by our mates at The Plot, because they want to do cool things in our community, and we want to help them do it. All thoughts, opinions and stories are those of The Westies, whomever they might be. For more information on sponsored content, please email or read more here.