Parramatta Now: This is Parramatta and InvisibleCity

6–8 October 2015

Hosted by the Institute for Culture and Society as part of the Parramatta Lanes festival

The words Parramatta Now in blue and white text over a blue sky background.

Parramatta Now 2015 (opens in a new window)from Institute for Culture and Society on Vimeo.

How do the people of Parramatta feel about their city? What do they want for its future? What kinds of street life, street architecture, street venues, lanes and corridors would enhance social life in Parramatta? What do locals, commuters, students, workers and visitors want from the city as it changes across the next 30 or 40 years?

The topic of the future is always engaging but what makes it especially compelling is the way we can see the cityscape changing dramatically in a short period of time. 

This event developed an emotional map of Parramatta as it is now to collect information about its current cultural, economic, ecological and political state and to project this into future desires about the shape of the city. It focused on the question: If we are building the 'next great city' what do locals think it should look like?

To explore this topic with people who live, work, study, and move through Parramatta, the Institute for Culture and Society organised two forms of engagement: This is Parramatta and InvisibleCity.

Logos of This is Parramatta and InvisibleCity. This is Parramatta: a circular pattern in green, yellow and orange. InvisibleCity - the words written in black with coloured words Emotion Memory Imagined Future underneath.

Parramatta Now 2015 (opens in a new window)from Western Sydney University on YouTube.

This is Parramatta

This is Parramatta began on the evening of 6 October as world-renowned ICS researchers took part in a conversation on cultural, economic, ecological and political dimensions of city life MC'd by Julie McCrossin (opens in a new window). Paul James spoke to culture, Katherine Gibson to economy, Gay Hawkins to ecology and Amanda Third to politics, in ways that connected with the everyday experience of being a citizen in a city. Audience-participants shared their thoughts and reflections through digital technology such as smart phones, capturing images and videos of the city which served as a basis for thinking about how the city might be in the future. In free digital workshops with award-winning filmmaker Enda Murray, participants recorded their impressions of the city and conveyed their ideas for the future via digital storytelling.

6 October – Parramatta Now – A Conversation

Parramatta Town Hall, 7.30–9pm

A conversation about Parramatta's future moderated by Julie McCrossin. Urban experts shared thoughts about liveable cities from around the world. City officials and workers shared what's happening now to make Parramatta great.

8 October – Parramatta Speaks! 

Parramatta Town Hall, 7–8.30pm

In a second conversation an emotional map of the city produced by youth alongside photographs and videos taken by locals were presented.


In creative workshops run by the Young and Well CRC (opens in a new window), Random House author Milissa Deitz and award winning photographer Michelle Catanzaro, young people (ages 12 to 26) submitted visual and text reports detailing their emotional responses to spaces throughout the city using a web-based mapping platform and text submissions. The interactive emotional map (opens in a new window)was presented and available to contribute to during the festival.


Both projects ran workshops to collect, compile and curate data. The two data streams were brought together on the evening of 8 October – the map of emotions and the curated video and photographic representations of the city – in a follow up conversation featuring ICS researchers facilitated by Julie McCrossin (opens in a new window). These representations of Parramatta as it is now and how we feel about it, formed the basis of a conversation about the city as it will be and how we might like it to be. The data as well as the proceeds from this conversation will be stored on (opens in a new window), a city dashboard developed for Parramatta City Council by ICS researchers.

Explore: West 

An exhibition of work by Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) students in the Rabbit Hole studio

A collage of 5 sections of poster art from the Explore West exhibition.

During the event, the Explore: West exhibition was on display in the Town Hall. This exhibition featured a diverse range of perspectives from young people in Western Sydney, contesting the one-dimensional 'Westie' stereotype. Studies show that Western Sydney is considered by many people living outside of the region as a dangerous place populated with people who are coarse, uneducated and culturally bereft. This is largely due to the 'Westie' label and other media representations that focus on negative images of the west, constructed and disseminated by people who have never even set foot in the area. 

As insiders, fourth year design students working in the Western Sydney University Rabbit Hole studio (opens in a new window)were asked to consider what they have to say about their home turf, and design a poster that encourages the viewer to explore different aspects of Western Sydney.

Event Program

View the program as a PDF (2.2MB)

Event venue: Parramatta Town Hall, 182 Church St, Parramatta NSW.

Part of the Parramatta Lanes (opens in a new window)festival.

Event Time
Day 1: Tuesday 6 October – Parramatta Now: A Conversation
Young and Well CRC InvisibleCity workshop 5–7pm
Discussion led by ICS researchers: Professor Paul James (culture), Professor Katherine Gibson (economy), Professor Gay Hawkins (ecology) and Associate Professor Amanda Third (politics) (MC: Julie McCrossin) 7.30–9pm
Day 2: Wednesday 7 October
This is Parramatta video editing workshop 2–6pm
Young and Well CRC InvisibleCity workshop 5–7pm
Day 3: Thursday 8 October – Parramatta Speaks!
This is Parramatta video editing workshop 2–6pm
Young and Well CRC InvisibleCity workshop 5–7pm
Presentations of maps, images and videos, and conversations about Parramatta now and in the future (MC: Julie McCrossin) 6.30–8pm
Day 4: Friday 9 October
Explore: West exhibition remains on display 5–10pm

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The logos of: Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University; Parramatta Lanes; Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre; Parramatta: we're building Australia's next great city.

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The cover of the Parramatta Now program which shows half of the face of a man taken from a mural in Parramatta - it has a sketched look and is pink blue. A yellow box surrounds the text details.

Thumbnail image of the Parramatta Now poster which has a blue sky background above the tops of two Parramatta buildings.

Thumbnail image of the This is Parramatta digital editing workshops.

Thumbnail image of the This is Parramatta digital editing workshops.