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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The bad twin of Pyrmont Street

I've spent a couple of days last week painting some small canvases of Pyrmont workers' cottages from the Bond store over the road at 12 Pyrmont Street. 
This pair of semi-detached 1860s workers cottages might have started life as identical twins, but have suffered radically different fates over the years.



plein air oil painting of Pyrmont workers cottages by artist Jane Bennett
Starting my painting 'A tale of two cottages' 
2012 oil on canvas 25 x 25 cm
$650

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They remind me of an old classic movie on daytime TV I watched many years ago. I can't remember its name, or much about the plot or who was in it. All I can recall is that it was about a pair of beautiful twin sisters - one was the epitome of niceness but the other one was evil and came to a sticky and well deserved end.

plein air oil painting of Pyrmont workers cottages by artist Jane Bennett
Plein air painting 'A tale of two cottages' 
2012 oil on canvas 25 x 25 cm
$650

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While the “good twin”, number 27 Pyrmont Street, has been lovingly renovated several times over the last 30 years, the “bad twin”, number 29 Pyrmont Street, is yet another property owned by the same couple who own Darling Island Bond and Free Store and the Terminus Hotel, and is in a similar state of neglect as the rest of their portfolio.

The “good twin” has an exquisitely applied paint job in the latest fashionable neutral shades. The “bad twin” once boasted a front wall and stoop of glorious Pyrmont yellowblock sandstone, but this had unfortunately been covered with a cheap and nasty coat of plaster and bright blue paint which has faded erratically.

plein air oil painting of Pyrmont workers cottages by artist Jane Bennett
 'A tale of two cottages' 2012 oil on canvas 25 x 25 cm
$650

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In the early 1980s, Number 27 was occupied by a couple of eccentric graphic designers. They started the ambitious but ill-fated "Pyrmont Passport" as a protest about the over-development of the Pyrmont Peninsula and the construction of the Casino. After they lost this fight, one of them moved to live in the Birdsville pub to get away from the madness of inner city politics.

I haven't yet met the current occupants of Number 27, but the elegant brass plate next to the door is inscribed "Rhubarb" in a funky yet tasteful font. At the moment it seems that it is compulsory for anyone who lives or works in Pyrmont has to be an architect, a web designer or run a restaurant, preferably all three simultaneously. As "Rhubarb" is a type of vegetable, it would be far too literal a name for a restaurant, my money is on it being full of architects or web designers.


"Status quo ante bellum" (the state existing before the war)


Last century, the residents of Pyrmont tended to fit into a few well defined categories. The CSR employees clustered around the western end of John Street, wharfies and ex-wharfies around Point, eastern Bowman and northern Harris Streets, the Darling Island shunters and other railway employees around Murray, Bunn and southern Harris Street and people working around the Fishmarkets on the western side of Bowman street and around Wattle Street. There were few restaurants, but many pubs, all rough as guts. And the "media, cultural and entertainment hub" was provided by the topless barmaids at the Terminus, and the parties thrown by the squatters of Scott and Point Streets.


"Tempora mutantor, nos et mutamur in illis"

(the times are changing, and we are changing with them )

 


plein air oil painting of Pyrmont workers cottages by artist Jane Bennett
I sold my small canvas so I'm starting another plein air painting of the same cottages from a slightly different angle 
'A tale of two cottages'  2 
2012 oil on canvas 41 x 51 cm
$2,200

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While Number 27 has a neatly rendered step and a pretty little white picket fence,in contrast the facade of number 29 has shown a distressing tendency to fall face down in the gutter like Lindsay Lohan.
Recently an emergency repair of an unflattering bright red brick retaining wall had to be applied to stop the rest of the cottage sliding down the hill. 
However, the "bad twin" still has good bones and is possibly not beyond redemption.
plein air oil painting of Pyrmont workers cottages by artist Jane Bennett
'A tale of two cottages'  2 
2012 oil on canvas 41 x 51 cm
$2,200
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Every time I paint in Pyrmont Street I fantasize about what could be done by a sympathetic owner, some TLC and vast quantities of time and money......

I finished the smaller canvas only just in time for it to dry for the opening of the Xmas exhibition at the Frances Keevil Gallery last night!

It had barely been hung before it was sold and taken away by the happy owner. They hadn't even run out of wine and cheese at the opening.

So I'll be back soon on the corner of John and Pyrmont streets to finish a slightly larger canvas.


The Xmas exhibition continues until 31st December 2012


FRANCES KEEVIL GALLERY,
 

Bay Village, 28-34 Cross Street Double Bay, NSW 2028   
Hours M-F 10am-5pm Sat 10 - 4pm Sun 11-4pm
ph/fax: 02 93272475      mob: 0411 821550   


frances@franceskeevilgallery.com.au 

Page of Jane Bennett paintings



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wrong side of the tracks - Darling Island Bond and Free

Recently I have been painting yet another magnificent ruin from the notorious Wakil collection of derelict buildings.
The Wakils, who also own the Terminus Hotel and the old milkbar on the corner of John and Harris Street  seem to be obsessed with playing a 30 year long game of Monopoly...with real buildings.
This is the Darling Island Bond and Free Store at 12 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont.
My first drawings and paintings of this building date from nearly 30 years ago, and the changes are almost imperceptible. On the southern side, windows were cut into the brickwork during the 1980s. The plane trees have grown so that they obscure my view of the row of charming 1880s terraces next door. The residents of 14 Pyrmont St had planted ivy which crept up the wall, but later they cut the ivy and it died off before it could continue its conquest.
Otherwise it is as though I have been deposited back in the Pyrmont of the 1980s.

plein air oil painting of urban decay in Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
Painting "Darling Island Bond and Free" en plein air, in front of 27 Pyrmont Street
$3,300
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Originally this bond store was home of  "Australian Thermite Company Pty Ltd" and must have been built either just before the First World War or during its first few months.
As far as I know, the cutting for the Pyrmont Goods Line which curves around the north of this building dates from about 1911-14 (?) so the Bond store would have been built around then.

plein air oil painting of urban decay in Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
My painting of "Darling Island Bond and Free"2012 oil on canvas 61 x 51cm on my french box easel, in  Pyrmont Street
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 Thermite is a mix of aluminium oxide and another metal oxide (usually iron) . It was used for welding in-place of thick steel sections such as locomotive axle-frames so that the repair can take place without removing the part from where it has been installed.
A thermite weld is spectacular.Molten metal drops into the mould in a blinding flash. The still glowing edges are trimmed  still glowing and then  polished until you can't see the join with the steel rail on either side. It is a very traditional work process, which was first patented in the 1890s but it would still have been the last word in modern technology when 12 Pyrmont Street was first built.
Rail under stress can easily buckle. Thermite can be used for quickly cutting or welding steel such as rail tracks, without requiring complex or heavy equipment. However, thermite welding must be done carefully as defects are often present in such welded junctions. Also the rails must remain straight, without dipped joints, which can cause wear on high speed and heavy axle load lines.

Thermite is not classed as an explosive, however back in those days living next door to a Bond store full of thermite would definitely have qualified as living "on the wrong side of the tracks".
plein air oil painting of urban decay in Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
 "Darling Island Bond and Free"    
 2012  oil on canvas 61 x 51cm
$3,300
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I'm not sure when the "Australian Thermite Company" building was transformed into the  "Darling Island Bond and Free".
It must have been at least a couple of decades after its construction, as I have seen some unfortunately undated photos which must have been taken after 1916, but before 1948, as they show the empty yard to the east of the original 1904 Power Station building before the second power station was completed in 1951.
 The faded letters  "Darling Island Bond and Free"  can still be just made out on the south and east side of the building.

I'd like to thank the occupants of number 14 Pyrmont Street for reviving me with kindness and their excellent coffee while I was painting on an extremely hot day.
I will display this painting in the Xmas exhibition at the Frances Keevil Gallery  
The opening will be on Saturday 1st December 2012, from 5-7pm.
The exhibition continues until 31st December 2012
FRANCES KEEVIL GALLERY
Bay Village, 28-34 Cross Street Double Bay, NSW 2028   
Hours M-F 10am-5pm Sat 10 - 4pm Sun 11-4pm
ph/fax: 02 93272475      mob: 0411 821550
    

 frances@franceskeevilgallery.com.au
Page of Jane Bennett paintings


Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Show at the Australian National Maritime Museum

Exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum by the Australian Society of Marine Artists



I chose these 3 paintings to display in the exhibition by the Australian Society of Marine Artists in the Tasman Light Room at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The exhibition was part of the 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival from Friday 12th October - Wednesday 17th October 2012.



oil painting of Walsh Bay Wharves by artist Jane Bennett
"Demolition of Wharf 6/7, Walsh Bay Wharves” 2001  
oil on canvas 61 x 102cm


 $ 6,600 
 
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I had painted the demolition of the almost derelict structures of Wharf 6/7, Walsh Bay Wharves from the interior of Wharf 8/9 in 2001. This wharf was later replaced by apartments designed to imitate the genuine wharves. 

oil painting of notorious cargo ship 'Tampa' at Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett

"The last call of the ‘Tampa’ ” 2007 oil on canvas 31 x 103cm

 $ 3,500

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I had been “Artist in Residence” at the Hungry Mile during its last days of port operations.The notorious “Tampa” was the last Ro-ro ( roll on roll off car ship) to berth at the Hungry Mile wharves, now known as “Barangaroo” in late October 2007, marking the effective end of Sydney as a working harbour.

oil painting of controversial ex-HMAS Adelaide' with Anzac Bridge at Glebe Island Wharves by artist Jane Bennett

”Ex-HMAS Adelaide at Glebe Island Wharf” 
2009 oil on canvas  46 x 92cm

 $4,500
 
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 I had painted the entire saga of ex HMAS Adelaide from her arrival at Glebe Island Wharf in September 2009 to her scuttling off  the Central Coast on Wednesday April 13th 2011. 
Her interior was stripped to prepare for her reinvention as a dive wreck but this was stopped at literally the last minute by a controversial court case. The ship had to undergo more stringent preparations for another year, until the dawn of April 11th 2011 when she made her last journey to her final resting spot off North Avoca.  

Artist in Residence at the Australian National Maritime Museum


plein air oil painting of Krait by artist Jane Bennett at 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival at Australian National Maritime Museum
Painting the 'Krait' at the 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival Australian National Maritime Museum. Oil on canvas 28 x 36cm
$1,400

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 I also spent Saturday 13th October and Sunday 14th October next to HMAS Vampire as Artist in Residence giving a demonstration of plein air painting.

In this photo I am starting a small canvas of the 1934 fishing trawler,  Krait, which led a heroic double life during World War II.
In 1941, Krait was used to evacuate people from Singapore to Sumatra during the Japanese advance. Perfectly disguised as a local fishing vessel, in the 1943 Operation Jaywick she was boldly sailed into Japanese-occupied waters with a team of Z Special Unit commandos whose mines blew up and severely damaged 7 enemy ships in Singapore harbour. After the war, Krait worked in the Borneo timber trade, until  two Australians on a business trip recognized her in 1962. Krait then returned to Australia to a hero's welcome, a testament to Australian sacrifice during war.

plein air oil painting of wooden boat by artist Jane Bennett at 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival at Australian National Maritime Museum
Painting the 'Winnie Too' at the 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival Australian National Maritime Museum. Oil on canvas 51 x 61cm
$3,500
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Later in the day, as a contrast to the stark black hull of Krait, I painted Winnie Too one of the dozens of charming smaller wooden boats on display. 


exhibition of oil paintings of tall ships and Pyrmont  by artist Jane Bennett at 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival at Australian National Maritime Museum
My outdoor exhibition at the 2012 Classic and Wooden Boat Festival Australian National Maritime Museum.
 
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As there was a handy awning to protect them from the wind and sun I was able to present an outdoor display of some of my other canvases of vessels from the Sydney Heritage Fleet and the Australian National Maritime Museum. The canvases on the easel are of the tall ships James Craig and HMV Endeavour, and the light ship Carpentaria. The smaller works hung from the railings are some of my early Pyrmont paintings, which date from the era before the building of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tower of Power- Drawings of the White Bay Power Station

FIWhite Bay, an often overlooked part of Sydney's industrial and maritime heritage will soon be radically overhauled.
ink wash and gouache drawing on paper of White Bay Power Station, Rozelle by artist Jane Bennett
'White Bay Power Station' 2012
ink gouache on paper 30 x 21cm

FINALIST : 2012 KEDUMBA DRAWING PRIZE

$770 
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I have painted many of its current and former landmarks, including the Unilever site, the White Bay Power Station and the notorious White Bay Hotel, (which was 'mysteriously' burnt down) ever since they were all operational in the late 70s - early 80s.
ink wash and gouache drawing on paper of White Bay Power Station, Rozelle by artist Jane Bennett
'Chimneys of the White Bay Power Station 2' 2012
ink gouache on paper 30 x 21cm

FINALIST : 2012 KEDUMBA DRAWING PRIZE

$770 
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 This is a group of 4 small ink wash and gouache drawings on paper, which I have decided to enter in the 2012 Kedumba Invitational Drawing Prize.
ink wash and gouache drawing on paper of White Bay Power Station, Rozelle by artist Jane Bennett
'Coal Loader White Bay Power Station' 2012
ink gouache on paper 30 x 21cm

FINALIST : 2012 KEDUMBA DRAWING PRIZE

$770 
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 It seems a strange distortion of scale to create such small works in response to such a slumbering beast as the gigantic Power Station. Usually I paint an enormous canvas to try to capture its heroic proportions.
However there are so many exquisite details which can get lost in a larger composition that I was glad of the opportunity to focus on them. Every inch of this rusting monster is worthy of a painting, so that it is difficult to choose.
ink wash and gouache drawing on paper of White Bay Power Station, Rozelle by artist Jane Bennett
'Coal Loader and Chimney White Bay Power Station'
 2012 ink gouache on paper 30 x 21cm
FINALIST : 2012 KEDUMBA DRAWING PRIZE
$770 
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And I will have to choose quickly.
Now the White Bay Transit Shed has been partially demolished and the site re-developed as the controversial new Cruise ship terminal.
Glebe Island wharf, once used for offloading cars, has been eerily empty since the departure of ex-HMAS Adelaide to its watery grave off North Avoca in 2011.
A temporary exhibition venue will soon be built on this space to replace the Darling Harbour complex while it is being refurbished.
A road will soon be built on the empty site where the "Great Gatsby" had been filmed last year, to link all these new developments to civilization.
oil painting on canvas of White Bay Power Station, Rozelle by artist Jane Bennett

"White Bay Power Station after rain"
2012 oil on canvas 183 x 112cm

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So I feel that the days of the White Bay Power Station as a hulking urban ghost are numbered. 
One day the sleeping giant will wake.... 
To what sort of future? 

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