Since 2007, due to real or perceived safety issues, temporary catch platforms have been suspended from the long arm and short arm jibs. They spoil the line, but apparently provide access to allow condition inspections to be performed safely.
At first glance, it looks as though the Hammerhead Crane has 5 legs.
However, one of these "legs" is a lift to give access from the wharf to the slew ring level (seen in the centre at the top of my drawing). As the crane is 61m high, this wasn't an idle luxury.
Unfortunately this lift has been out of operation since 1998.
While drawing this, I met probably the last person to have ever used the lift. He was escorting a group of photographers to the top, and had pressed the lift button when he heard a muffled explosion, and then found his hands were black with graphite. He said that he was lucky and got off lightly. I think he was right.
|'Under the Hammerhead Crane' 2014 |
ink, pastel, charcoal,graphite on paper 140 x 110cm
WINNER : 2014 DRAWING PRIZE ROYAL EASTER SHOW
I stood directly underneath and looked up into the top of the soaring structure.
By looking up I sought to capture the Burke and Longinus concept of the "sublime", with its overtones of awe, terror and vertigo, rather than the picturesque aspect of the typical "hammerhead" profile, a view familiar from Mrs Macquarie's Chair opposite.
The girders were silhouetted against the open sky; the safety nets resembling fan vaulting in a ruined Gothic abbey.
While creating this enormous drawing, I also remembered Piranesi's devastating images of Roman ruins, dangerously broken and overgrown amid the wreckage of a dead civilisation.
I am an artist and historian, born into a time and place where only sport and business are valued. Drawing on the ruins of the industrial past , walking under rusty girders in the shadow of toppled giants.
Every ruin is implicitly a reminder that all things are destined for oblivion.
The Hammerhead Crane was built to demonstrate industrial might and the march of progress. Even as a victim of the slow death of de-industrialisation, it retains a poignant grandeur.
This was exhibited in my solo show "Under the Hammer" at the Frances Keevil Gallery from November 18th - December 7th 2014.