The Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney’s west is celebrating 21 years in operation this weekend. The Powerhouse has earned its stripes as one of Australia’s leading arts centres, hosting exhibitions and public programs that have been vibrant and utterly authentic. Originally built by the NSW Electricity Commission to supplement power shortages in winter, the building opened its doors as an arts centre in 1994. To commemorate its 21st, the centre is presenting 21 – an exhibition of 21 pivotal artists who have contributed to the centre over the years.

“Walking through the gallery, and seeing the extraordinary wealth of contemporary work that has been exhibited here at Casula, has been emotionally powerful,” says Casula Powerhouse director, Kiersten Fishburn. “It shows the value of an art centre like ours. You can just see that on the walls.”

The collection, chosen by curator Toni Bailey, includes works from established names such as Richard Larter, Daniel Boyd and Angelica Mesiti, as well as emerging artists who have just begun to work with the centre. While artists were invited to select which works they wanted to exhibit, Fishburn sees a common thread in the exhibition. “Looking at them all together you see some themes emerge – ideas of identity and cultural diversity. Those have come through really powerfully and that shows the ethos that the centre’s had over the last 21 years.”

The exhibition 21 is on show until November 29.*