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, February 23, 2014

Don't blow your stack- Painting the Port Kembla Copper Stack Part 1

I've been meaning to paint the Port Kembla copper stack ever since I heard about it being listed for demolition.
The 198m stack was built in 1965 on the Port Kembla Copper smelter site, off Electrolytic Road between Military Road and Darcy Road.
The Port Kembla Copper smelter finally closed down in 2003. Despite PKC’s efforts to keep the site open as a tourist attraction, an application was made to have it demolished in 2010.
This application then suffered a lengthy delay when asbestos was discovered at the site. There were a few false alarms - there was a rumour that it would be demolished in April 2013, then again in September. I realised that this time it would actually happen and I hurried down there 2 days before to try to paint the stack from as many vantage points as possible.
Better late than never!
I made sure that I packed a lot of long skinny canvases.
Urban decay - plein air oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting an oil painting of the 2 chimneys of Port Kembla Copper on Tuesday evening 18th February 2014
When I arrived on Tuesday afternoon, I started painting the stack from just outside the fence around the ruins of Port Kembla Copper on Darcy Road at the former Gate 18.
There was an earlier brick chimney, built probably in the early 1900s, which I believe might be retained. I wanted to capture the two together in my painting, although I wasn't able to include it in this photo.
I managed to complete a small canvas (31 x 15cm) of the copper stack from Darcy Road. I was rushing to paint as much as I could before the light faded, so I didn't stop to take a photo of this in situ, but you can see it in the photo below, in front of the blank canvas.
It is a poignant image of the stack behind the ruined tanks, furnaces and the old gatehouse of Port Kembla Copper against the luminous evening clouds.
Urban decay - plein air oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting an oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road on Wednesday morning 19th February 2014

Early on Wednesday morning I set up my easel at the top of Military Road, next to Hill 60.
I put the small canvas of the stack from Darcy Road against my easel as inspiration.
 As a 300m exclusion zone around the area was to be set up on Thursday, I had spent most of the previous day wandering around Port Kembla looking for good vantage points to paint and to view the demolition. The dramatic perspective of the hill and road leading up to the stack made this spot the winner.
Urban decay - plein air oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting an oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road on Wednesday morning 19th February 2014
"
Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road, the last day before demolition"
oil on canvas 61 x 31cm

$2,000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
                           
The sullen clouds overhead were joined by the smoke from the still operational Port Kembla Steelworks in the middle distance. Their chimneys were humbled by the overpowering height and bulk of the iconic Copper Stack. Rumours about the impending closure of the steelworks made this scene even more poignant.
I wasn't the only one to find this great view. As you can see by the camera on the tripod in the photo above, I had barely started to paint when tag teams of roaming journalists descended to interview the local residents.
Urban decay - plein air oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting an oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road on Wednesday morning 19th February 2014
"
Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road, the last day before demolition"
oil on canvas 61 x 31cm
$2,000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 I received a fair share of the media attention as well.
"Painting an iconic landscape before a looming monolith is felled" by Justin Huntsdale
19 February, 2014 3:00PM ABC Illawarra
Urban decay - plein air oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road on Wednesday morning 19th February 2014
"
Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road, the last day before demolition"
oil on canvas 61 x 31cm
$2,000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 However, by noon it had started to cloud over and I was worried that the distractions would mean that I wouldn't be able to complete my canvas before the rain became too heavy to continue.
Urban decay - plein air oil painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Painting of the Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road on Wednesday morning 19th February 2014
"
Port Kembla Copper stack from Military Road, the last day before demolition"
oil on canvas 61 x 31cm
$2,000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
By 2pm I had to leave as I was drenched, however, I had managed to capture the last day of the Port Kembla Copper Stack.

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