Industrial Cathedral

Industrial Cathedral
"Industrial Cathedral" charcoal drawing on paper 131 x 131 cm Jane Bennett. This drawing was a finalist in the 1998 Dobell Prize for Drawing (Art Gallery of N.S.W.) ; Finalist in 1998 Blake Prize for Religious Art ; Winner of 1998 Hunter's Hill Open Art Prize

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Steady rest

I've been painting the machinery in the William Wallbank and Sons ex- foundry in Auburn, before it is all stripped out and sent to a scrap metal yard.
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - AWW8 'Boys toys -Steady rest 1' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
I've been painting a series of still life studies on salvaged "press plates". 
These leftover circles of mild steel were found lying on the machine shop floor, and were being gathered up to be thrown away. 
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW8 'Boys toys -Steady rest 1' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017

It was fascinating painting the relics of industry on salvaged objects that were part of the waste product from that industry.
The lustre of the smooth metallic surface shows through every brushstroke, reproducing every sparkle, shine and glimmer of the knobs and finials. 

plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - AWW11 'Boys toys -Steady rest 2' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
Although the William Wallbank foundry dated from 1932, some of the machinery was much older. I found a nameplate on one from "Russia", which meant that it must have dated from before the Soviet era, and probably from before World War I.

plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW11 'Boys toys -Steady rest 2' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
The steady rest on a lathe, has a frame and 3 adjustable jaws to support a workpiece such as an axle or a shaft while it is being turned, milled or drilled. 
It prevents slender, flexible pieces springing back and forth, and also allows deep cuts, drilling, boring, or internal threading. 
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress on the easel -AWW10 'Boys toys -Boring machine' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
The over arm with the top jaw can be unfastened and swung out of the way so that pieces can be removed and replaced without needing to adjust the jaws. 
There should be 0.001 inch clearance between the jaws and the workpiece.
The bearing surface is usually machined directly on the work.
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW10 'Boys toys -Boring machine' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
When the work is too small or awkwardly shaped to machine the bearing surface, a 'cathead' can provide the bearing surface. 
The cathead has a bearing that is surfaced, a hole through which the work extends, and adjusting screws to fasten the cathead to the work.
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress on the easel -AWW9 'Boys toys -Control' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
When it is not possible to hold the work in the chuck, one end can be supported by the headstock centre and the other by the steady rest. 
A leather strap or rawhide thong is used to tie the work to the driveplate and to prevent it from moving off the headstock centre.
 plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress on the easel -AWW9 'Boys toys -Control' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
After the locking screws on the adjustable jaws are tightened, the bearing surface needs lubrication with  heavy oil before turning on the lathe.
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress on the easel -AWW9 'Boys toys -Control' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
The bearing surface and adjustable jaws should always have a heavy oil film between them, as when the workpiece heats up it will expand, closing the distance between it and the jaws.
plein air oil painting of heritage industrial machinery in an old foundry, William Wallbank & Sons, Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW9 'Boys toys -Control' oil on steel press plate tondo 16 x 16cm 2017
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scar Tissue


Exploring disused manufacturing can sometimes be a bit depressing – all that decay, all those jobs that no longer exist, all that busy industry that has gone.
I have been painting in the increasingly empty Large Erecting Shop of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, as they are being slowly stripped of all but the barest essentials,
leaving desolate floors and abandoned walkways.
Echos follow your every move, mimicking and daring you to make your presence known.
plein air oil painting in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Release' 2017 oil on canvas 41 x 31cm
 
Painting is less documentary, more subjective and definitely slower and more labour intensive than photography. However these qualities can be assets as well.
The painter has to select one image showing a definitive moment and yet implying others, to reveal layers of meaning that reward further viewing.
I value the quality of authenticity, of being a witness.
This practice of painting on site produces a more genuinely felt memory of my experience and an understanding of the location’s properties and mood, providing me with a truer record of the colour palette than photography.
plein air oil painting in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Release' 2017 oil on canvas 41 x 31cm
With the removal of so many items, I focus intensely on what remains. Instead of panoramas of the interior, I am working on a series of close ups of details I have previously overlooked, attempting to preserve what is left of the once chaotic jumble of relics of over 100 years of railway history.

The paint itself can give a feeling of the volume and presence of the scene being painted.
Texture such as rust, stains or water damage can be scraped back with a palette knife or engraved into the surface. The term for this is “sgraffito” .

plein air oil painting in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Release' 2017 oil on canvas 41 x 31cm
The colours and textures, crumbling render, faded pigments, verdigris, scrapes and scratches –  the  scar tissue that stand witness to moments in time and history, may be lost in the rush towards the future.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

City larrikins, past and present


I took advantage of a public holiday  and an almost deserted CBD, to try to record some of the buildings in Castlereagh St that will soon be demolished to make way for new metro stations around Martin Place.

plein air oil Painting  of Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting 'Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
I took a panoramic canvas to try to squeeze in as much of the streetscape as possible.
On this canvas I've managed to get the lovely Art Deco building on the north corner of Hunter and Castlereagh St, 55 Hunter St, 10 - 12 Castlereagh st and a doorway of the lovely old Commonwealth Bank building that now houses Macquarie Bank.
plein air oil Painting  of Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting 'Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
Ironically there is a keystone in the Macquarie Bank building that was placed there by the controversial NSW premier Jack Lang, who once attempted to nationalize the banks and cancel Australia's war debts to the UK. I can't help wondering what Jack Lang would have thought of Macquarie Bank!
plein air oil Painting  of Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting 'Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
Several skateboarders and parkour experts can just be seen in the distance, grouped on the stairs of the soon to be demolished 17 storey building at 55 Hunter street.
Unfortunately I had to break the news to them that their favourite ramps and railings at 55 Hunter St that they practise their jumps and turns on will soon be demolished. They will make the most of their unofficial skate park until it is knocked down next month, and entertained me with over 2 hours of death defying jumps, twists and somersaults.
plein air oil Painting  of Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting 'Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

There seems to be something about this street corner that attracts larrikins, past and present.
A trio of slightly less acrobatic larrikins of the past, also used this unassuming corner of the CBD to rattle the cage of conservative society over 50 years ago.
A famous copper sculpture by Tom Bass, bites into the Hunter street facade of this office block. It had been commissioned by P&O as a wall fountain  in 1961, and was intended to be seen as a purely abstract design. 
However, when this work was unveiled, its indirect resemblance to a Parisian pissoir and its position opposite the French Airline Office, led to a notorious lampoon in the 6th edition of Oz magazine. The editors of Oz magazine, Richard Neville, Richard Walsh and Martin Sharp, were charged, tried and sentenced to jail with hard labour for "obscenity and encouraging public urination", although the defendants subsequently appealed against the sentences, which were revoked.

plein air oil Painting  of Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting 'Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Tom Bass wasn't offended by the Oz magazine send up of his sculpture, and actually appeared in the trial for the defendants.
plein air oil Painting  of Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting 'Panorama of Castlereagh st, from Hunter st to Martin Place' 2017 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
Through the Chifley arcade are a couple of other buildings due for demolition, 5-7 Elizabeth street. 7 Elizabeth street is an elegant art-deco apartment block, recently vacated by its reluctant ex-residents.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

This is how the light gets in

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

“Anthem,” by Leonard Cohen from his 1992 album The Future.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a small square canvas 46 x 46cm of two windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
These are healing words to someone who often struggles under the unbearable weight of perfectionism. It is more than a confrontation with the strange beauty of broken things. It is a powerful message of hope in dark times.There is a crack in everything whether a physical object such as a piece of machinery, or even a state of mind.But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where we can find the transcendence we need to interpret painful events in a wider context.
Literally, nothing, and nobody is perfect.That should not be a source of despair or frustration. Imperfection is a sign of life.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a small square canvas 46 x 46cm of two windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
If the purpose of a window is to be able to let an observer see outside, or to illuminate the interior, the windows of the Large Erecting Shop of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops fail spectacularly.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'2 windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
However, the evocative effects created by sunlight filtering through the grid of rusty bars rival the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'2 windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
Every pane is a unique mix of translucency and texture.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window. The completed  painting  " '2 windows and a door, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm" is against the barrier behind.
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Their ethereal opalescent quality is not caused by expensive designer frosting, but by more than a century's buildup of deposits of dirt, pigeon droppings, steam and diesel fumes.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
 And there are cracks galore.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
 Other imperfections abound.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Half finished 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window. The completed  painting of " '2 windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm" can be seen on the right.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
Ghost signs warning of the dangers of long lost machinery alternate with boarded over panes in abstract patterns that would make Mondriaan's head spin.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Half finished 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 

 Doors are abruptly cut into them, apparently at random.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Half finished 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
An inexplicably green pane of glass casts an eerie phosphorescent glow.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 "Window with pane of green glass" 2017  oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

When the Large Erecting Shop is redeveloped, the windows will be replaced with uncracked clear panes to match the rest of the gentrified ATP.
No rogue panes of eldritch green glass will startle the viewer with their otherworldly light. They will be made safe, watertight, functional, identical and boring.
The chaotic jumble of heritage machinery in the Large Erecting Shop will be culled and tamed. There will be nothing accidental, mysterious or inexplicable.
There will soon be no cracks left to let the light in.