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 14, 2014

Under the Hammer

Before the Navy finally booted me off Garden Island, I made sure that I tackled some large scale drawings
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.
plein air charcoal and ink drawng of the Hammerhead Crane, Garden Island by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Under the Hammerhead Crane' 2014
ink, pastel, charcoal,graphite on paper 140 x 110cm

My hands were also black with graphite after creating this enormous drawing.
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.

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