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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Eveleigh Windows - (Very) Stained Glass Windows Part 3

Hidden Beauty
E85 Eveleigh Windows 2011 oil on canvas 51x 41cm

Sold : $2,400


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eveleigh - (Very) Stained Glass Windows Part 2

Flaws in the Glass
E84 Eveleigh Windows 2011 mixed media on paper 76x 56cm

Available for sale : $4,500

I have painted in the Large Erecting Shop for many years now, and usually I have concentrated on the trains rather than the building itself, as the trains were there for only a short time. 
However the fabric of the building itself is to alter soon, so my focus has shifted.
I completed a lovely little oil on canvas of a nondescript corner of the building, but then I decided to concentrate on the play of light, as so little colour was visible. Then I thought, why not paint a series of works in black and white.
I was reminded of some of my favourite Lloyd Rees paintings, his series of the medieval stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral.
Painting E78 'Window, Large Erecting Shop' 2011ink pastel acrylic on paper 115 x 75cm
Tools of the trade. Large bottle of black acrylic paint and a small bottle of water spray.
I paint with black and white acrylic paint, alternating with black Indian ink to produce areas of thin wash or impasto.
Painting E78 'Window, Large Erecting Shop' 2011ink pastel acrylic on paper 115 x 75cm
Then alternately tilting the enormous work from side to side to get the effect of the cracks in the glass by spraying the ink with water until it freely drips, then quickly laying it on the floor when I have the effect I want. 
High risk technique - really working without a safety net.

Painting E78 'Window, Large Erecting Shop' 2011ink pastel acrylic on paper 115 x 75cm

Then I take soft white Schminke pastel - so soft that it crumbles into powder- and broadly sweep it down the ares of the most intense light. With the palm of my hand I briskly smear it across highlights on the brickwork, then partially rub it off ink lines where I want cracks in the shattered panes to appear. 
Also a high risk technique, and very messy.
Painting E78 'Window, Large Erecting Shop' 2011ink pastel acrylic on paper 115 x 75cm
This is next to the old signal box where I sometimes keep my easel. 
I have heard a rumour that they will paint the floors white!
I can't believe this!  They will still be using this area for trains - possibly even steam trains! There will be oil, diesel, soot all over the floor by the end of the first day! A white coloured floor will aid visibility only as long as it stays white, which probably won't be for long, whereas fixing the electricity and replacing some of the broken lights will go much further to reducing OH and S problems.
Well I had better make the most of working "wet in wet" with ink and pastel while I'm still able to put my painting on the floor before it all becomes too gentrified.

Painting E78 'Window, Large Erecting Shop' 2011 ink, pastel, acrylic on paper 115 x 75cm
Most people looking at these works thought at first glance that they were actual stained glass windows from  St Mary's cathedral. 
But they are just windows with a lot of stains on them. Stains made by decades of hard work, accident, even a little vandalism.
The light transforms them into visions worthy of Chartres or Sainte Chapelle.
My dealer, Frances Keevil, only half-jokingly suggested that I enter one of these works in the Blake Prize for Religious Art. 

E78 'Window, Large Erecting Shop' 2011 ink pastel acrylic on paper 115 x 75cm

Available for sale : $7,700

' Eveleigh Window 1' 2011 mixed media on paper 131x 115cm by Jane Bennett Artist
' Eveleigh Window 1' 2011 mixed media on paper 131x 115cm.
Available for sale : $11,000


The completed drawing.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Irons in the fire - Part 6 -Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick

A Tale of 2 Prizes

Just returned to Australia from my exhibition in Seoul, South Korea, to find a little box of acrylics, sketch books and other art paraphernalia that had been sitting on my doorstep unnoticed.
As well as winning actual money as 2nd prize at the Royal Easter Show, some kind sponsor had thrown in some art equipment as well. I could go through all the paint in those little tubes in a single afternoon, but all donations gratefully received!
oil painting of blacksmith, Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
E83 'Blacksmith forging '2011 
ink pastel acrylic on paper 9 x 10cm  
WINNER 2nd Prize for Miniature Painting 
2011 Royal Easter Show

Enquiries about similar paintings

When you add the cash amount to the cost of the box of paints, this tiny little painting actually won more than double its price in prize money ! I wish I could keep that standard up for every painting!
oil painting of blacksmith, Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'The Blacksmith' 2011 oil on canvas 75 x 100cm

Enquiries about similar paintings
However, my other equally worthy contenders for prizes got nowhere. 
A thorn in my side has been the so-called "Plein Air Painting" Prize. I doubt that I will ever bother entering again. As I am one of the very few genuine plein air painters in existence, who doesn't just paint small studies but lugs giant canvases around wharves, demolition sites and foundries, to the bemusement of hundreds of surprised wharfies, blacksmiths and demolition contractors,  I consider this art prize a farce. The trouble is that after decades of painting swiftly in adverse weather conditions in front of workmen and passers-by, my works just don't have that clumsy slapped together look demanded by the organizers. 
My works rarely have much 'studio intervention' other than simple repair work ( bird dirt, insect,twig and dust removal ; and removal of grubby finerprints from carrying them awkwardly) They have been painted quickly, but as these might well be the only records of a particular event or even an entire location, they have to look as though time were not an issue, or the lack of time an excuse for bad painting. In other words, they have to compete on their merits. 
Ironically, the same works entered in the Plein Air Painting Prize (not the ones shown here by the way) had won art prizes elsewhere in which the painting process was not an issue.
Now I've had good works chucked out of countless other art prizes and just laughed about it - I take a philosophical attitude. The funniest occasion was when my rather nice watercolour of the Spit Bridge got thrown out of the Royal Easter show, and, wanting to get it out of my lounge room, I put it in the Wynne Prize for Landscape for a bit of a laugh. It promptly won the Trustee's Prize for Watercolour and the Pring Prize  - the joke was that if it hadn't been chucked out of the Royal Easter Show I would never have thought of entering the Wynne. In all my years of winning prizes and selling paintings at the Royal Easter Show, getting my painting thrown out was the biggest favour they ever did me!
So why does this particular art prize stick in my throat? Because it is a Plein Air Art Prize.
I have never had a work hung in an art prize where I am quite possibly one of its few genuine practitioners. And I never will.
I have been told that my works don't have the 'look' of having been painted 'en plein air'. Yet they are. To be regarded as 'credible' my paintings should be messier, more thickly painted, more indecisive, clumsier, more unfinished, with less ambitious perspective and simpler composition and design. I have paid the penalty for my painting skill.
The works should be smaller as well- this art prize has the strange size restriction of being geared towards vertical work, with a generous vertical height limit of 2m but a horizontal one of only 85cm. Because nobody paints large canvases 'en plein air' !
The predictable result is a bias towards a vertical grid of little studies. Fine, but one of the valid aspects of landscape painting has always been the "sublime"- the feeling of being overawed and overwhelmed, even physically threatened by the landscape. In this art prize there is no room for the heroic.
In short you mustn't challenge their preconceptions of what a plein air painting is. And I have no use for work that toes the line and does the 'expected'. I have been punished for my temperament as well as my skill in painting.
 I've seen artists (usually amateurs) paint outdoors in parks, gardens or the rural environment. But in all my decades of painting I have never seen anyone except Tom Carment tackle the urban environment we all mostly actually live in 'en plein air'. I can't help feeling that artists  indulge in escapism by going off for expensive weekend retreats to the bush for 'inspiration' instead of noticing the hidden beauty closer to home.
So today I will take my unloved and unbelieved paintings  from the art gallery loading dock, back to the wharf, construction site or foundry where they were created. At least the truck-drivers, wharfies and security guards who watched me paint them, know how to appreciate them.
And they certainly do. These works have now all been sold.
oil painting of blacksmith, Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 E53 The Blacksmith Bay 1 Eveleigh 2011 oil on canvas 122 x 152cm

Enquiries about similar paintings

Related articles

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A good Korea move : Part 2 "Together in Harmony"

The exhibition "Together in Harmony for 50 years",was part of the celebration event for '50 years of Friendship Between Australia and Korea' at the Noori and Arum gallery in the Korea Foundation Cultural Centre in Seoul, Korea. The opening was on 4 -7pm Friday 29th April 2011 and the exhibition will continue until 17th May 2011.

I was one of 106 Australian and Korean-Australian artists invited to display one work in this major international exhibition. I was also one of the 40 artists invited to display a work in the Bom Gallery, in the Cheongdam-dong gallery precinct in Seoul.

Me, outside the Korea Foundation Cultural Centre, in front of the poster for the exhibition

My painting is in the centre of this photo, 2nd to the right of the man closely inspecting the exhibits. My work was hung in a very good position, almost directly opposite the entrance. But all the works were hung and lit beautifully- there were no bad positions.

Lost in Translation
K.W.A.S.S., the Korean Women's Art Society, had kindly provided my ticket, accommmodation and some spending money, in return for a seminar on my own  painting processes and techniques and a brief history of Australian Landscape Painting. 
This sounds deceptively easy, but it is a lot of ground to cover in an hour. Actually Robert Hughes, Elwynn Lynn, John McDonald and many other famous art critics and historians have tried valiantly to capture the essence of Australian Landscape Painting in less than 500 turgid pages and half a lifetime's study. And mostly failed just within sight of their goal, like so many other intrepid explorers lost in the Australian outback.
As well, I had to submit my entire talk several days before, so that it could be translated into Korean. I hadn't realised that this would be necessary, as I knew that someone would be available as a translator. So for the first couple of nights, jet-lagged as I was, I had to sit up until 3.30 am writing and re-writing my seminar. I realised that I had to cut down on slang or idiom to make it as coherent as possible for the translator,Kim Tae Eun. Trying to find a rational explanation of Sid Nolan and the Kelly myth in 25 words or less close to impossible. It would probably have been easier to learn Korean.
I wonder how "Such is life" translates...
Usually, I like to speak without notes, just referring to images for inspiration, while I work without a safety net! I couldn't do that here, so I hope that the information was interesting enough to make up for any lack of spontanaeity.

I also showed a few photos of me painting "en plein air" at Barangaroo, which the audience seemed to respond to. When in doubt show a picture.
Enhanced by Zemanta