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, April 15, 2013

We like sheep - Waite and Bull Building 137 Pyrmont Street

'All we like sheep have gone astray' was one of the Advent, Christmas and Easter biblical texts to which Handel set his great oratorio Messiah. This chorus in F major is from Part II and the primary source of the libretto is Isaiah  53 :6.
My Granny, who had a beautiful soprano voice and sang in the Philharmonic for many years, would still get the giggles when singing "We like sheep". 
She called it the national anthem of New Zealand.

Pyrmont painting- Plein air oil painting of ghost sign on Pyrmont building by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 'Ghost Sign on top of the Waite and Bull Building, 
137 Pyrmont Street' 

2013 oil on canvas 13 x 18cm


Australia once rode on the sheep's back.

This sheep hasn't exactly gone astray, but it looks a bit perturbed.

It is a surreal adornment to an otherwise solemn warehouse conversion on the corner of Pyrmont Street and the Pyrmont Bridge road.

Nobody seems to notice it except me.
The drivers and pedestrians are too busy negotiating the chaotic intersection to be able to look up.

This building at 137 Pyrmont street, originally called the FL Barker Woolstore, was designed by Arthur Blacket and completed in 1884.
Although the building was built for F.L. Barker and Co. it was actually owned by Sydney businessman John Taylor. A sign on the other side still reads "John Taylor 1893".
 From 1895 until 1923 it was leased to wool brokers Hill Clark and Co., then from 1923 until 1951 the Store was a wool store owned and operated by Wool Brokers William Haughton and Company.
From 1951 until 1973 it was owned by the commercial printers Waite and Bull, and it has been commonly known as the Waite and Bull Building ever since. In 1973 the building was bought by Stocks and Holdings Pty Ltd. 
 In the early 1990s it was extensively refurbished by the architects Allan Jack and Cottier. It was then the headquarters of the City-West Development Corporation, who kick-started the redevelopment of Pyrmont. I remember visiting them to beg permission to be allowed to paint in areas that were being demolished.
City-West Development Corporation later morphed into the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, who now reigns over an empire of the bits of Sydney Harbour not controlled by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, Sydney Ports Corporation (now privatised) or the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust .

In comparison to other buildings of the time, Blacket's wool store had a simple elegance and dignity showing the influence of the architecture of the Chicago School. The manifesto of their leading  architect Louis Sullivan had been 'form follows function' which meant using ornament sparingly and only if it is an integral part of the building's form.
The contrast between the sober dignity of the rest of the building and the sign makes the sheep swinging in a sling an even more startling image.
It was obviously considered to be very important, but I don't know whether this was part of Blacket's vision, or added by a later occupant.
Most of Pyrmont's industrial heritage has been obliterated, but if you look carefully you can still find quirky and charming remnants of its industrial past.

In conjunction with the Frances Keevil Gallery, I'll have an exhibition of my Pyrmont paintings at the 2013 Pyrmont Festival at Pirrama Park.
 This time my display will be extended to 2 days - Saturday 18th May and Sunday 19th May from 11am - 5pm. 

 See more paintings of Pyrmont at my page of Pyrmont paintings in this blog 

Enquire about my paintings of Pyrmont 

No comments: