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

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pyrmont : Shadows of the past

I'm exhibiting 2 very large tonal drawings of early Pyrmont in a
Mixed Exhibition
June 13 - July 17 2011 at the Frances Keevil Gallery :
See Facebook album of Pyrmont Drawings 

ink gouache and charcoal drawing from the top of the ANZAC Bridge by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
**P116A "Looking West from the top of the ANZAC bridge"
1995 - 6
mixed media on paper 141 x 134cm


Enquiries :

Exhibition History:
Exhibited 2010 exhibition "Closing the Gap" Frances Keevil Gallery

However the drawing to be displayed in the exhibition opening 13th June 2011 in the Frances Keevil Gallery is another from the same series, which I unfortunately didn't manage to take a photo of before it was reframed :

P116B "Looking West from the top of the ANZAC Bridge"
1995-6 mixed media 141 x 134cm

Exhibition History:
Exhibited 1997 solo exhibition Rex Irwin

About the drawings :
The ultimate bird’s eye view of Sydney – the top of the western pylon of the still unfinished New Glebe Island Bridge provided me with majestic panoramas of Harbour, Bridge & City on the east. However in 2 large drawings I decided to concentrate on the stark industrial landscapes on the north-west. It was as yet un-named – only after it was operational for at least a year did Bob Carr christen it the ANZAC Bridge.

I was invited up here as a consequence of being the resident artist of the Pyrmont Power Station, when Sydney Electricity were having discussions with the RTA and Baulderstone Hornibrook about lighting the Bridge.
While the bridge was being built, access to the top was by a tiny green lift that lurched unsteadily up one of the legs on the eastern and western side.The lifts seemed to be made mostly of chickenwire and it felt like every time they managed to groan upwards a couple of metres, they would suddenly lurch downwards at least half as much again. After construction finished, access to the top was a lot more strenuous, although not as gut-wrenching. The legs of the ANZAC Bridge are hollow! To get to the top still needs a touch of courage as well as the ability to climb a steel rung ladder- the last 30 metres are completely vertical.
Now the old White Bay Hotel has been burnt down in mysterious circumstances, and subsequently demolished. The entire Bays precinct stretches from Blackwattle Bay, Glebe in the West, through White Bay and Glebe Island wharf, all the way to Balmain in the east. This huge expanse of former maritime industries faces unprecedented change in the near future, which I am poised to record.

ink gouache and charcoal drawing  of the Cooperage of the CSR Refinery Pyrmont (now Jacksons Landing) by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
P117 'Industrial Cathedral' 1998
charcoal on paper 131 x 131 cm

Enquiries :
Provenance and Exhibition History:
EXHIBITED : 1998 - 2000 Blake Prize Touring Exhibition Touring the Regional Galleries of Australia

About this drawing:
Drawn at the Cooperage, C.S.R. Refinery, where they made the barrels for the rum at the Distillery.
 The Cooperage was a trio of connected saw-tooth warehouses behind the cranes where the ships used to dock. 
 I remember a giant mound of sugar inside the eastern shed. Some of the workers said (I hope as a joke !?) that they used to go for toboggan rides down it during smoko! Whether or not this was a joke, for many years afterwards I avoided eating sugar if possible - especially brown sugar!
By this time LendLease had demolished all the cranes on the dock and many of the other structures surrounding. The tin roof had gone and the skeletal framework reminded vaguely me of boatbuilding.
This drawing focuses on the mysterious patterns of shadow made by the fall of light. The cavernous space & rows of columns reminded me of the interiors of cathedrals & ruined abbeys. The wall at the back was the famous butter-yellow Pyrmont sandstone, which has been quarried to decorate the best loved historic Sydney buildings such as the Australian Museum, the Sydney Post Office, the University of Sydney. At sunset the sandstone rock face caught the last rays of light & the derelict warehouse was transformed.
In this series I painted many oils on canvas and board, and a few ink wash drawings on paper. The image of this area haunted me for several years, and I decided that I needed to create a drawing on a monumental scale while it was still there.

Now this building is the site of the "Cooperage cafe", servicing the new residents of LendLease's upmarket Jackson's Landing development.

I chose this image as the banner for my blog "Industrial Revelation"
I felt that it was an iconic image, summing up my mission to reveal the sadly neglected beauty of industrial heritage.

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