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

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
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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
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