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

Friday, January 24, 2014

Paintings of Pink pubs - Painting the Jolly Frog Part 2

Another painting of the "Jolly Frog" before the fire.
I've just read the excellent historical notes on theself-guided Windsor Heritage Walks, that I found in the Macquarie Arms Hotel.
I painted this view from the site of the Windsor Barracks and Guardhouse opposite.
According to the guide "in 1818 a substantial brick barracks accommodating up to 60 soldiers was completed on this site by Richard Fitzgerald. The foundations of the guardhouse constructed in 1830 at the entrance to the barracks were unearthed by roadworks in 1976 and the site preserved. The guardhouse consisted of 3 small cells which were used for the confinement of subordinate soldiers. The site was surrounded by a high wall, remnants of which survive today. The barracks and guardhouse were demolished in about 1928 to make way for the construction of a police station and lockup."
plein air oil painting of the abandoned hotel "Jolly Frog" in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
WJF4 'The 'Jolly Frog' from the foundations of the Military Barracks
 2013 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm


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Whenever I painted the "Jolly Frog" I found myself thinking about Edward Hopper's paintings, while listening to the Buena Vista Social Club on my mp3 player.
In Edward Hopper's paintings, encroaching shadows express the tension between nature and culture, and past and present. Although roads are typically associated with the noise, speed, and rapid change of modern life, this scene is curiously still and silent.
I've finally tracked down the Edward Hopper painting that I feel it most resembles " Early Sunday Morning" 1930.

After crossing the Fitzroy bridge over South Creek, for a minute I thought I had arrived at a sleepy Cuban shanty town. The shabby facade of the "Jolly Frog" painted like a block of liquorice allsorts , a combination of sublime architecture and gorblimey colour evoked the streets of Old Havana.
I've always wondered about the inspiration behind the surprising and lurid colour schemes of moribund pubs.

For comparison, I have included 2 of my paintings of the ex-pub "The Pyrmont Arms".
plein air oil painting of the "ex Pyrmont Arms" in Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
"P248A The 'Pyrmont Arms' from the CSR 2
1991 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm


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 The pink paint job is startling enough on the close up bird's eye view study I painted from the roof of the CSR boilerhouse (now the 'Elizabeth' apartment of the Jackson's Landing LendLease development)

plein air oil painting of the "ex Pyrmont Arms" in Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
P249 "Pyrmont panorama- from the CSR 2"
 1991 oil on canvas 38 x 76cm
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But just look at how it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst all the dark decaying bond stores and warehouses.
Same fabulously horrid "glow in the dark" shade of "Paddo pink", but a very different fate was in store for the ex- Pyrmont Arms Hotel. It is no longer a hotel, but has been reasonably sympathetically renovated and is now a combination of apartments above and a bottle-o below.

The real mystery is how the "Terminus Hotel" a block further south in Pyrmont has so far escaped. The Terminus has been derelict since the mid 1980s, and must surely be a candidate for the Guinness Book of Records for the longest existence as a derelict building without having suffered a mysterious fire. If you're interested in its strange history see my posts in this blog "To the Point" , "Looking over the overlooked" and "A tale of Two Pyrmont Hotels"

Update

plein air oil painting of the abandoned hotel "Jolly Frog" in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
WJF4 'The 'Jolly Frog' from the foundations of the Military Barracks
 2013 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm

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 Past and present at the Jolly Frog, 26th January 2014

plein air oil painting of the abandoned hotel "Jolly Frog" in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
WJF4 'The 'Jolly Frog' from the foundations of the Military Barracks
 2013 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm

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 Past and present at the Jolly Frog, 26th January 2014

plein air oil painting of the abandoned hotel "Jolly Frog" in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
WJF5 'The 'Jolly Frog' (there's nothing...)
 2013 oil on canvas 25 x 31cm

Private Collection : Windsor
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Past and present at the Jolly Frog, 26th January 2014


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Boiling Frog


plein air oil painting of the "Jolly Frog" pub in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
 WJF1 'Door of the 'Jolly Frog' 
2013 oil on canvas 15 x 15cm

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The "Jolly Frog", was "mysteriously" burnt down at about 10pm on the 20th January.
 A popular local watering hole, it had been derelict for several years. Its lurid fluoro pink paint job was the first visible landmark after crossing the bridge into Windsor.
Now it's gone up in smoke.

A few months before, I painted some small studies from a small road opposite the "Frog"  I also painted a few small studies from my car behind the pub where there was a wasteland used as a carpark.
The "Jolly Frog" certainly had the atmosphere of an accident waiting to happen. it reminded me of  the former White Bay Hotel, which a couple of years ago had suffered a similar fate.



plein air oil painting of the "Jolly Frog" pub in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
 WJF3 'Study of the 'Jolly Frog' 
2013 oil on canvas 18 x 13cm
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plein air oil painting of the "Jolly Frog" pub in Windsor by artist Jane Bennett
WJF2 'Sign of the 'Jolly Frog' 
2013 oil on canvas 18 x 13cm
Private Collection : WinmaleeEnquiries

                 
This trio of tiny oil studies have a slightly "Edward Hopper" air about them; never a bad thing to have.
Closed shutters, boarded up doors and a disquieting mystery inside.

In my next post about painting the 'Jolly Frog' I have some 'before and after' paintings.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Rust never sleeps : Painting the Hammerhead Crane Part 2


 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Starting to paint my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600

The Hammerhead Crane was constructed between 1944 – 1951 as part of a major development of the Garden Island naval facilities that also included the Captain Cook graving dock.
It was originally intended to serve the ships of both the British and Australian Navies.
 The British Navy had access to the 250 ton Hammerhead Crane at Singapore until 1942. When Singapore fell, this crane was destroyed, but its design and steelwork construction drawings were reused for the Garden Island crane.


 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Starting to paint my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600

The crane designer was Sir William Arrol Co Ltd of Glasgow, with Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners of London as consultants.
The 250 ton crane was the largest size of the 18 Arrol Titans constructed from 1910 to 1960. The Garden Island Hammerhead Crane was one of the six 250 ton Arrol Titans.
 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600


 Between 1989 – 1991  the crane capacity was reduced and inspections and repairs were carried out.
In 1995 Jigger hoist was withdrawn from service due to runway corrosion.
1996 seems to have been the last known date of operation.
 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600



Large riveted structures have an inherent problem.
They have, by the nature of their construction, many inaccessible surfaces which can't be completely sealed against water and are therefore prone to corrosion.
 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600

This problem was well understood by the designers of the Hammerhead.
Their specifications required that all surfaces to be brought together should be painted with two coats of red lead in boiled linseed oil as a corrosion protective coating, before fit up and riveting. The surfaces were supposed to be brought together while the 2nd paint layer was still wet.
This was the normal procedure to limit corrosion on inaccessible surfaces.
 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600




However, according to the Hammerhead Crane report by Godden Mackay Logan an analysis of the paint layers is as follows:
Substrate: Dark Brown Mill Scale on Steel
First paint layer: Yellow Zinc Chromate Primer
Second Paint Layer: Light Grey Aluminium Top-Coat
Third Paint Layer: Dark Orange Red Lead Primer
Fourth Paint Layer: Grey Alkyd MIO 

 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600



A Zinc Chromate primer as well as a second coat of grey aluminium paint lie underneath the layer of red lead over most of the crane. 
This was completely contrary to the original specifications of the designers. And with good reason.
Red lead is intended for direct application to ferrous substrates, so it is of limited value when applied over existing paint. 
The National Paints product sheet says that red lead primers are " not suitable for over coating of zinc primed steel".
So there.
 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600

Red lead/Lead tetraoxide (Formula: Pb3O4) is a bright red, heavy, water and alcohol insoluble, poisonous compound and has been used as a pigment since the time of the Roman empire. It was originally known as minium, after the Minius River in northwest Spain where it was first mined. Red lead was usually obtained as a powder by heating the yellow lead ore known as litharge. In the medieval period it was used as a pigment in the production of illuminated manuscripts, and gave its name to the miniature.
In combination with linseed oil, red lead is incomparably useful as a thick, long-lasting anti-corrosive paint.
However red lead  is also notoriously and horribly toxic. 
But then, so is zinc chromate.
 plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting my canvas of the 
"Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island" 
2014 oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
$6,600



 Every now and then I can see a sallow greenish yellow hue seeping mockingly through the apparently uniform grey top coat. 
What were they thinking when they applied the zinc chromate primer? 
The combination of a zinc based primer and aluminium based 2nd coat makes me suspect that the first painters of the Hammerhead were attempting a "zinc-alume" solution. The theory is that aluminium and zinc oxides will migrate to a scratched surface and provide enhanced corrosion protection. 
In practice, it didn't work.
There are large areas of breakdown and surface corrosion occurring on the Hammerhead Crane where the paint layers have failed.
Rusting through the paint due to corroding millscale is also common.

Rust is a common metaphor, even a cliche, for slow decay. It gradually but thoroughly corrupts robust iron and steel metal into a soft crumbling powder.
In my paintings, I am grateful for the patches of rust. They add a dash of much needed warmth and texture to contrast with the monotony of the cool grey colour of the steel.
But in real life, rust is something I am sorry to see. It speaks of neglect, of compromise, of lack of foresight, of laziness, of apathy, of failure to preserve and protect.
Decay is not merely physical.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Painting the Icebreaker "Polar Star"

I was continuing my paintings of the Hammerhead Crane at Garden Island last Friday when I was startled by the arrival of a large red-hulled ship.
plein air painting of  icebreaker U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Holding up my painting of
'U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  arriving at Garden Island'
 2014 oil on canvas 20 x 25cm
as the icebreaker departs for the Antarctic
$550
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

                           
 It docked alongside the Hammerhead Crane, so it was difficult to ignore.
On its hull was the number "10" and the name "U.S. Coast Guard" written in white block letters.
It was the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter "Polar Star", one of the world's most powerful icebreakers making a port call in Sydney before it transits to conduct a rescue mission in the Antarctic.
This heavy icebreaker cut short its Sydney visit to go to the rescue of 2 ships stuck in the Antarctic ice - the Russian research ship 'Akademik Shokalskiy' which has been trapped in ice-clogged Commonwealth Bay since Christmas Eve, as well as the Chinese ship which came to its rescue, 'Xue Long' ( 'Snow Dragon' in Chinese) and had also become stuck nearby.
plein air painting of  icebreaker U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Holding up my painting of
'U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  arriving at Garden Island'
 2014 oil on canvas 20 x 25cm
as the icebreaker departs for the Antarctic
$550
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

                           

Luckily I always carry a selection of small canvases, just in case I need to capture an unexpected moment.
I painted a  20 x 25cm small horizontal canvas of the Polar Star's arrival at Garden Island, with the crescent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background partially hidden by the trees of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie's Chair.
I also managed to finish a 15 x 30cm tiny panoramic canvas of the Polar Star docked beside the Hammerhead Crane before her departure for Antarctica on the morning of Sunday 5th January.
Luckily I can work fast.
plein air painting of  icebreaker U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
On my easel is my half finished panoramic painting of
'U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island'
 2014 oil on canvas 30 x 153cm
$5000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

                           
 I started an ambitious panorama showing the "Polar Star" beneath the Hammerhead Crane on the left, while on the right is a glimpse of the HMAS Sydney behind some dock buildings and an old crane.
plein air painting of  icebreaker U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
On my easel is my half finished panoramic painting of
'U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island'
 2014 oil on canvas 30 x 153cm
$5000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

                           
 I knew that I wouldn't have time to finish this painting before the "Polar Star" left for its Antarctic rescue mission, but I have enough information from the 2 small studies I painted earlier to be able to complete it.
plein air painting of  icebreaker U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
On my easel is my half finished panoramic painting of
'U.S. Coastguard Cutter "Polar Star"  at Garden Island'
 2014 oil on canvas 30 x 153cm
$5000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

                          

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hammerhead Crane

plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
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The Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island was built between 1944- 1951. 
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
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It is still the largest dockside crane in Australia, and one of only 15 still standing around the world.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
Enquiries
Soon there will be only 14, as Sydney's Hammerhead Crane has not been used since 1996 and will soon be demolished.
I've been trying to get access to paint the Hammerhead Crane from Garden Island for over 2 years.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
Enquiries
After a longer than usual struggle with bureaucracy, I finally gained permission to paint there during the Navy "Rap" period.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
Enquiries
No hiphop is involved with the Navy's "Rap"- it's apparently an acronym for reduced activity over the Christmas holiday period.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
Enquiries

As the sky became more overcast, I decided to repaint the background for a more dramatic effect.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
Enquiries
I think about these structures as a palaeontologist regards fossils as once living organisms, and to understand them in that light. The specimens palaeontologists collect are not the living creatures but the few skeletons and fragments that have had the good fortune to survive the lottery of decay and fossilization and come out on the other side as beautiful relics.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
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The sites I paint are usually relics.
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
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My vantage point for my first painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island is from the Fitting out Wharf, just to the north of the crane.

plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
I have often painted the Hammerhead Crane from Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Woolloomooloo Fingerwharf opposite. From these viewpoints, the Hammerhead Crane looked like an leftover Meccano toy.   
However now I am almost directly beneath it, I feel overwhelmed by the power and scale of this immense crane looming over me.
The mass of scaffolding unfortunately obscures much of the original structure, while fortunately also preventing it from dropping rusty remnants on my head from a great height. 
plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 

The contractors will have to construct a temporary crane next to the Hammerhead, which will take several weeks.

plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
Painting the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island 
Enquiries
The demolition process might take the better part of a year from start to finish, so there will be time to paint many more canvases.

plein air oil painting of the Hammerhead Crane on Garden Island by artist Jane Bennett
"Hammerhead Crane from the Fitting Out Wharf, Garden Island "
2014 oil on canvas 61 x 51cm
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Several of my paintings and drawings of the Hammerhead Crane have won multiple art awards. 
I exhibited my series of paintings and drawings of the Hammerhead Crane at my solo exhibition at the Frances Keevil Gallery "Under the Hammer" 18th November - 7th December 2014.