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, July 27, 2011

(A total lack of) Art and Coffee on the Rocks!

I've just been appointed as the inaugural Artfiles Artist In Residence at The Rocks Pop Up Project.
As Artist in Residence, I will be on or painting close by around the site from Wednesday to Sunday for the next 4 weeks. Tomorrow I'm going to check out my new space at 47 George St, which used to be an old Westpac Bank office. This project features an eclectic mix of creatives over at 47 and 77 George St, the Rocks. Gaffa, Red Room Company, artists, fashion designers, jewellery makers and even a tailor are just some of the residents breathing new life into the previously empty spaces.
I will take my French Box easel, turn up at a nearby location very early in the morning and create small, quick plein air paintings in and around the Rocks, Walsh Bay Wharves and Barangaroo.
Then later in the day I would be able to work these small pieces up into studio paintings at leisure in the studio space at 47 George St.
I could paint a large scale painting in front of the public, not only providing them with a source of entertainment and information but a chance to communicate, so that it is a “two-way street”. Most people have never seen an artist at work and find it quite fascinating to watch. As a ‘plein air painter’ I am a seasoned practitioner of an almost lost craft. Most of my work, including large scale canvases, not just sketches, has been painted in front of the public, whether workers or casual onlookers. It has been a major part of my normal artistic practice to do so for nearly 30 years, so I'm used to coping with distractions, interruptions and horrible weather. This is an opportunity for people to watch the creative process at work, ask questions and make comments without feeling intimidated by a gallery atmosphere. My subject matter is limitless : The surroundings - Heritage buildings, colourful and disreputable old pubs like the 'Hero of Waterloo', 'The Orient' and the 'Lord Nelson', ferries and water taxis, the cruise ships arriving and departing from the OPT. The people -Rocks residents, the bustle of the markets, shop owners, storekeepers and buskers.My first real "taste" of my new studio, both literally and metaphorically, will be on Sunday 31st July, whilst indulging in coffee from around the world at Australia’s largest coffee event, the Rocks Aroma Festival.

Update

Well that was the plan.

I have been bullied and harassed by the SHFA goon squad of Rangers so badly that I am removing all my belongings from the 'studio' and will never return.
I previously wrote

This is an opportunity for people to watch the creative process at work, ask questions and make comments without feeling intimidated by a gallery atmosphere.
Well I have been the one to be intimidated.
The Rocks is no longer a place for an artist.
And if you are creative in public you will be treated like a criminal.

I had never attended the Rocks Aroma festival before.

I will make damn sure that I will never be silly enough to do so again.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Power House


plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
This canvas is 102 x 152cm, which is at the upper end of what the French box easel can safely handle. Fortunately today is sunny and quite still, as even a small breeze can make painting a canvas this size 'en plein air' a nightmare.

plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
I've primed the canvas black as it's a good backdrop to intensify the colour of the rusting metal sheeting.
plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
I'm trying to paint this canvas from the back to the front to increase the 3D effect. I painted the sky first, so the Power Station appears as a silhouette.

plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com

plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station
$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
plein air oil painting of the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new and very large canvas at the front of the White Bay Power Station - at the end of my first day of painting

$13,000
Sold
Enquiries about other paintings of White Bay Power Station:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com
Sunset comes all too quickly in midwinter. The White Bay Power Station briefly turns golden in the last rays of the setting sun.
By the time I've packed up my easel, night has already fallen, making it even more difficult to put my large and very wet canvas into the back of my car without smearing it.
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Friday, July 8, 2011

White Bay Power Station : Inside Out

Inside the Boiler House of White Bay Power Station
Painting the chimney stacks from inside the Boiler House.
It's so dark inside that it is difficult to take photos and I've never really learned how to use the flash properly.
I had always meant to do more painting inside this room. It has always lost out to the more spectacular turbine hall and the iconic Mullens St facade with the strong diagonal of the coal loader zig-zagging across the towering stacks.

This vast cavernous room is about absence rather than presence. Three out of the four original boilers have been removed, leaving gaping voids. Talk about 'negative space'! The room reeks of loss.
Painting inside the Boiler House
I balanced the exterior space revealed by the open rusting door with the muted light coming through the window. Under the window, sheets of rusting corrugated iron are also letting in some light as they are disintegrating at the edges and pierced with holes.
The parallel vertical lines of the window sheeting contrast with the horizontal pattern of the iron. The severe geometry is interrupted by a mad little squiggle of barbed wire perches on top of the corrugated iron sheeting with a baroque flourish.


The finished painting 
"Inside the Boiler House of White Bay Power Station" 
2011 oil on board 51 x 25cm 
For sale - $1,400 
Enquiries
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Artist in Residence at the White Bay Power Station - Part 2

Back to front

Many local artists have painted the front facade of White Bay Power Station, but very few people have had access to the back or the interior, except on the rare open days.
Urban decay in the Bays Precinct - plein air oil Painting of White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett

Painting at the back of the White Bay Power Station
"White Bay Power Station from the back"
2011 oil on canvas 61 x 31 cm
$2,000
Enquiries:


So this is a post about the hidden side of the White Bay Power Station.
Beside the closest chimney nestle some rows of old sandstone blocks. They are leftovers from the alteration of the approaches to the old Pyrmont bridge. The old Pyrmont Bridge was closed to all but pedestrian traffic by about 1979, as a prelude to the redevelopment of Darling Harbour from a railway goods yard to the its current state of a soul-less and seedy tourist trap and entertainment precinct.
Urban decay in the Bays Precinct - plein air oil Painting of White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting at the back of the White Bay Power Station
"White Bay Power Station from the back"
2011 oil on canvas 61 x 31 cm
$2,000
Enquiries:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Sunset at the back of the White Bay Power Station. It was a sunny day, but the wind chill and sitting in the gigantic shadow cast by the Boilerhouse made this a three tracksuit day. I had to wear so many layers that I could barely move my arms!
Urban decay in the Bays Precinct - plein air oil Painting of White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
The almost finished painting:
"White Bay Power Station from the back"
2011 oil on canvas 61 x 31 cm
$2,000
Enquiries:
janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Artist in Residence at the White Bay Power Station

Power Base
plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new canvas on the site of the now demolished Boiler House 2, White Bay Power Station, Rozelle, Sydney, N.S.W.


Back in the 1980's, I painted the White Bay Power Station while it was still operational.
In the 1990's, while the Pyrmont Power Station and Balmain Power Station were in the process of being demolished, I returned to the area to paint the Unilever site, the White Bay Hotel and the Goods Yard. While the Anzac Bridge was being constructed, I painted birds-eye views of the site from the summit of the western pylon. In 2000, the ownership of the site passed from Pacific Power to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA). From 2002 - 2004 I painted exterior views of the Boiler House and monumental interiors of the Turbine Hall, one of which was acquired by the Mitchell Library, State Library of N.S.W. for their collection.


From 2008 I have been painting this magnificent relic from the wharves of Glebe Island and White Bay. Now I've returned to the site itself as 'Artist in Residence'.


plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new canvas on the site of the now demolished Boiler House 2, White Bay Power Station, Rozelle, Sydney, N.S.W.


The back of the Boiler House
This massive brick and reinforced concrete structure seen at the backdrop of my painting was built in 2 stages - 1953 and 1958. Its interior is cavernous and cathedral - like. The lower steel and concrete tower next to the Boiler house was built to handle ash waste.


There were originally 4 boilers, but 3 of these have been since removed, leaving large voids. One lone boiler remains at the northern end, along with pulverizing mills and other machinery, including the coal hopper stretching high up along the western wall. The steel-faced asbestos cladding which once contained the intense heat of the fire, has fortunately been stripped off the boiler during the decontamination of this site.
The addition to the left is the administration building.
The bright red belongs to some containers which are full of debris from some of SHFA's other sites. Bizarrely, one of these containers has been decorated with paintings of butterflies.
plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a new canvas on the site of the now demolished Boiler House 2, White Bay Power Station, Rozelle, Sydney, N.S.W.
This canvas was painted close to the railway corridor next to the old ash handling yard to the south east of the site. I have chosen to explore the slightly less glamorous aspect of the site as the first paintings of my long awaited return to the site, rather than the all too familiar view from Mullens Street.
Every half baked photographer and his dog has an image or two of the iconic chimney stacks from the northern Balmain side. This is scarcely a challenge - far too easy. I know this building very well, inside and out, and have painted it and the surrounding area over the past 3 decades. My paintings show the White Bay Power Station's subtler charms.
plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Finishing the new canvas on the site of the now demolished Boiler House 2, White Bay Power Station, Rozelle, Sydney, N.S.W.


In the foreground is the space where the 2nd Boiler House, built on the southern side in 1927, and demolished from 1975-1976. Now this space is used for leftover debris from the clearing of Ballast Point, a former Caltex fuel depot, now a public park. I remember painting some of these relics on location at Ballast Point before its transformation in 2004-5.
The imposing facade, even from the back has a stern grandeur and dignity found in castles and forts. The dramatic shadow cast by this monolith is occasionally broken by glints of sunlight that touch weeds now infesting the vacant upper south yard, once home to the White Bay Hotel which finally succumbed to a mysterious fire in 2009. 
plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
The finished canvas on the site of the now demolished Boiler House 2, White Bay Power Station, Rozelle, Sydney, N.S.W.


plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"White Bay Power Station from the back 1" 2011
oil on canvas 46 x 61cm
Available for sale : $2,800
Enquiries
janecooperbennett@gmail.com


plein air oil painting at the White Bay Power Station by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"White Bay Power Station from the back 2" 2011
oil on canvas 46 x 61cm
Available for sale : $2,800
Enquiries



Also see my page in this blog :  Glebe/White Bay Paintings