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, September 14, 2012

Artist in Residence at the Sydney Heritage Fleet Part 3 -'Slipping away'

Artist in Residence at the Sydney Heritage Fleet Part 3

Painting 'Boomerang' being slipped at Noakes

 I was invited to join the volunteers who were working on the 'Boomerang' while it was slipped at the Noakes shipyard in Berry's Bay, North Sydney.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
On the little steam tug 'Harmon' starting my painting of the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
 I arrived at the Sydney Heritage Fleet shipyard at 8am so that  I would be in time to join the volunteers on either the 'Harmon' or the 'Boomerang' to be ferried over the Harbour.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
On the little steam tug 'Harmon' starting my painting of the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
I had a choice of catching either the 'Harmon' or the 'Boomerang'. Although the stately 'Boomerang' promised a stylish ride, I chose the 'Harmon' so that I could watch the drama of the 'Boomerang' being hauled ashore.
I started painting while still on board the 'Harmon', but she soon had to return to Rozelle, so I completed my painting on the jetty at the Noakes shipyard.
The 2 photos above show the first stage of my painting while on board the 'Harmon', with the 'Boomerang just visible in the background.

oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
Starting my painting of the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 46 x 46cm 11.30am Monday 20th August
By 11.30am I was deposited ashore with my canvas and easel.
I had to make sure that my canvas would be finished by the time the volunteers knocked off at 2.30pm or I would have had to walk or swim back to my car at Rozelle! Noakes is in a little cove of Berry's Bay, which is west of the Waverton Peninsula and east of McMahons Point.
The deepwater frontages of Berry’s Bay were used by the port and maritime industry from the late 19th century.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
Starting my painting of the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 46 x 46cm  11.30am Monday 20th August
A Short History of Berry's Bay
During the 1930s the Berry's Bay waterfront was one of the most important boatbuilding sites in the harbour.
There was also a timber mill which provided the materials for the construction of North Sydney’s cottages and churches during the early decades of the 20th century.Other important industries around the site during the early 20th century included the North Shore Gas Company which had shifted its productive gas works from Neutral Bay to Balls Head Bay in 1906 and the  Sydney Coal Bunkering Company which  began building a coal loader in 1917, to act as a steamship bunkering station. It was the most advanced means of loading coal into steamers then available in Sydney Harbour. Coal from colliers was dumped onto a huge timber and rock platform on the shore. It was fed by gravity down shutes to four tunnels below, and then into waiting hopper cars which were then hauled by cable out to a long wharf. Fortunately I painted and drew it  before the coal loader ceased operating in October 1992. The wharf, coal-loading platform, tunnels and a few brick administrative buildings remain.
Opposite Noakes is the former site of the BP fuel depot. Their first tank was installed in 1923 and many more were added until there were 31 by the late 1960s. The cliff was known locally as "Gibraltar". BP ceased operations at the site in the 1980s and by the mid-1990s the tanks had been dismantled although their ghostly outlines are still visible in the cut rock.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
2nd stage  of painting the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 46 x 46cm 1pm Monday 20th August
 $1800
Enquiries  

 janecooperbennett@gmail.com
frances@franceskeevilgallery.com.au
The Art and Times of Berry's Bay
Berry's Bay has a distinguished artistic heritage dating from the earliest days of the 20th century. Some of Australia's best artists  of that time lived locally and were attracted to the picturesque scenes of boat building and ship repair.  Roland Wakelin, Rah Fizelle, Sydney Ure, Roy de Maistre, Lloyd Rees and brothers Percy and Lionel Lindsay, often painted together around Berry’s Bay between the 1900s and 1930s and were known as the "Northwood Group".

oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
Completed painting of the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 46 x 46cm 2.30pm Monday 20th August
Note the railway in the background 
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

In the vast collection of Prints and Drawings of the Art Gallery of NSW is a lovely 1926 etching The Harbour from Berry's Bay by Sydney Long (1871 – 1955) which  follows the glassy expanse of water down to the clutter of wooden ships, boathouses, yards and mills. Another evocative Whistleresque etching is Ship Berry’s Bay 1918
by Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Long later painted a lively little plein-air oil sketch   Across Berry's Bay To The Sobraon 1939 from exactly the same viewpoint as Percy Lindsay's  Shipyards, Berry Bay (also known as The Bridge Builders)  c. 1927 (AGNSW). Both these works also shows the Sobraeon, a famous clipper ship later refitted as a naval training ship HMAS Tingira, that was moored there until being broken up in 1943.
In 1916 Wakelin painted  Down the hills to Berry’s Bay (AGNSW), which has become an icon of early Australian Modernism. Another Roland Wakelin study, Berry's Bay  1919 shows an aerial view of the shipping, while later works such as Berry's Bay  c.1934 shows details of ship repair and Berry's Bay c.1945 shows more of the industrial ambience.
 In 1922 Lionel Lindsay created a mezzotint, A nook at Berry’s Bay of the boathouses along the foreshore, and in 1923 a etching of a venerable old figtree shading the shipyards The Great Figtree.
So while I painted here I was constantly aware that I was treading in the footsteps of the masters.


oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
Starting painting of the 'Boomerang' on the slipway at Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay oil on canvas 38 x 78cm 8am Tuesday 21st August
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
The next day I took the less scenic route to Noakes, driving there rather than taking the Harbour cruise option so that I could spend more time and paint a larger canvas.

oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay

2nd day Tuesday 21st August 9.30am -1st stage of painting the'’Boomerang’ at Noakes Yard 2 - oil on canvas 38 x 76cm

oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
2nd day Tuesday 21st August 11am -2nd stage of painting the'’Boomerang’ at Noakes Yard 2 - oil on canvas 38 x 76cm
 

With this extra time I was able to include a couple of the volunteers as they worked .

As I was trying to complete this canvas on the day, I wasn't able to take too much time to explore this fascinating site, but I promised myself that I would be back. The staff at Noakes invited me to return to paint the giant travelling cranes, and the quaint cream and red heritage ferries of the Rosman fleet.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
2nd day Tuesday 21st August noon -3rd stage of painting the'’Boomerang’ at Noakes Yard 2 - oil on canvas 38 x 76cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
The vessels of the Sydney Heritage Fleet are often repaired at Noakes. There are few other options available now as more and more waterfront has been gobbled up by developers for apartment blocks.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
2nd day Tuesday 21st August lunchtime break -3rd stage of painting the'’Boomerang’ at Noakes Yard 2 - oil on canvas 38 x 76cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
I finished my canvas just in time to avoid being locked inside the gates. I was only able to include a few of the many volunteers who were tirelessly scampering up and down ladders with scrapers and hoses.
oil  painting by artist Jane Bennett of Sydney Heritage Fleet boat 'Boomerang'  Noakes Shipyard, Berry's Bay
2nd day Tuesday 21st August 5pm -completed painting of the'’Boomerang’ at Noakes Yard 2 - oil on canvas 38 x 76cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
There used to be many ''working harbour'' boat repair businesses around Berry's Bay , but by now most of the slipways have "slipped away".
Now Noakes is the last of its tribe, and I am one of the last of a proud artistic lineage to paint the bustling boatyards of Berry's Bay.
Related articles
The 'Boomerang' Sydney Heritage Fleet

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