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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Barangaroo : Red Square, the Drill Rig and a little archaeology

Barangaroo: Red Square 
Painting inside the former cruise ship terminal
plein air painting of Wharf 8 at Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Red Square" unfinished oil painting on canvas 31 x 61cm
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A work in progress, still on the easel.
plein air painting of 'Red Square' Wharf 8 at Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 'Red Square' oil painting on canvas 30 x 103cm
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This canvas is still a little unfinished, but you can get the general idea of what I'm attempting to do here. It's an interior versus exterior painting, playing with light, transparency and reflections. Unlike the other doors in the loading dock, which are solid slabs of brilliant scarlet, these are translucent fluted sheets that both reveal and conceal the view. 
The "Red square" to the left was the bright scarlet entrance to the passenger walkways allowing access to the cruise ship


In 20th century art history a famous quote about early abstract art was "The red square is haunting painting", about the work by Kazimir Malevich and similar Russian painters involved with "avant-garde" movements such as Constructivism and Suprematism during the 1920's. The red square has certainly haunted this building! It reminds me how quickly the 'new' and 'modern' passes into history. It is ironic how "Modernism" is now a historic term referring to the art of 50-80 years ago, and the architect of this former wharf has either deliberately or unknowingly raided its vocabulary!
De-construction of Constructivism! Art chasing its own tail.
In the background, realism intrudes into the chilly geometry with the two drill rigs of the geophysics team, Coffey and Macquarie Drilling.

The Drill Rig at South Barangaroo
plein air oil painting of drill rig at Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"The Drill rig" 2010 oil painting on canvas 31 x 41cm 
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A core sample is being taken on South Barangaroo, to make sure that there are no nasty little surprises when construction starts.

Incidently, all of Barangaroo is landfill.
When I painted on the K.E.N.S. Site (the "Kent, Erskine, Napoleon and Sussex street block " which is now the new Westpac headquarters) next to Moreton's pub (known as the 'Big House' by the wharfies) I saw steps that were unearthed that once belonged to an early 19th century Fingerwharf, and must have roughly coincided with the original shoreline. They were halfway between Kent and Sussex Street - so anything west of Sussex Street is fill.

Don't forget your toothpaste!

A couple of the men from Coffey and Macquarie Drilling have worked at the same sites that I have painted at! These include the former A.G.L. Site at Mortlake, developed by Rosecorp (which is now known as 'Breakfast Point') and the Carleton United Brewery site at Chippendale, which is still underway. One wet and miserable day at the Carleton United Brewery site, I was offered some of the old bottles and jars to paint by the archaeologists, instead of struggling through the mud laden with an easel to paint the chimney in the pouring rain. A few weeks later, the archaeologists generously made their spare finds available for the construction workers to souvenir. I suppose that an old brewery site wouldn't lack bottles! I took a small selection of 19th century ceramic and glass bottles, including perfume jars, ink bottles and a big brown 'Geneva' bottle (mother's ruin or gin), but one of the men on the drill rig team had a real prize - a small ceramic jar with lacy craquelure that once contained an early 19th century version of toothpaste! When we realized that we both were proud owners of these relics, I brought my paintings of the CUB finds and the bottles to Barangaroo and he brought in his toothpaste jar for me to paint.
My Carleton United Brewery still life can be seen on my 'Urban Landscape' page on this blog.
This is their 2nd last hole before the drill rig team pack up and leave Barangaroo.

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