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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sydney Sandstone - Painting the Lands Department building

The Lands Department building 22-33 Bridge Street Sydney, is one of the most outstanding surviving Victorian buildings in Sydney. The building had been used continuously for the purpose which it was designed for - as the administrative head office of Department of Lands.
Unfortunately, this will soon change.
I don't know whether all the original features which makes this building so wonderful will be retained, but I thought that I should attempt to paint it while it is still in its original state.
I managed to set up my easel in Macquarie Place Park, directly opposite the corner of Bridge and Gresham street.
plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries
James Barnet was the architect mostly responsible for the design of the Lands Department building, although Walter Liberty Vernon and William Edmund Kemp also made contributions. 

plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries
 The foundation stone was laid in 1876 by the Minister of Lands and it was completed in 1893. The Renaissance Revival Style facades are of dressed Pyrmont sandstone, and are richly decorated with classical motifs and statues. 
The ground, first, and second floors have pilasters and entablatures of the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders respectively, each standing on appropriate pedestals.  
plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries

A large copper dome, 55' square at the base, but changing to an octagon at the top, rises above the Bridge Street facade.
The clock tower has a copper onion-shaped dome which was allegedly influenced by the shape of the water carafe of Sir Henry Parkes.

plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries
The best of Classical tradition was fused with the most cutting edge technology for the period. Heating, lighting, ventilation and a system of communication involving speaking through tubes and operating pneumatic bells was incorporated in the design. Builder John Young introduced one of Sydney’s first reinforced-concrete floor slabs, with concrete vaults to improve fire resistance.


plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries

There are 12 niches on each facade, which were all intended to be filled with sculptures of explorers or legislators who made a major contribution to the settlement of the nation. Although 48 men were nominated by the architect as being suitable subjects, most were rejected and only 23 statues were commissioned, leaving 25 niches unfilled. In 2010-11 a new statue of colonial surveyor James Meehan (1774-1826) was created and placed in an empty niche on corner of Loftus/Bent Streets.

plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries
In my painting the statue of the botanist Sir Joseph Banks is on the left, and the statue of the explorer Sturt on the right.
plein air oil painting of Lands Department building in Bridge st Sydney by heritage artist Jane Bennett
U235'Statues of Explorers', Lands Department 2015 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries

In the late 1980s the building was earmarked by the NSW Governnment as one of the potential sites for conversion into a casino.
 To protect the building from unsympathetic development, a Permanent Conservation Order was passed by the NSW Heritage Council.  
However, although it is one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Australia, it still faces an uncertain future.
Both Sydney’s historic sandstone Department of Lands and Department of Education buildings on Bridge Street will be turned into a $300 million luxury hotel after the State Government's controversial approval of 99-year leases to the developer Pontiac Land Group.
The hotel will open in 2021 after the government employees finally leave in 2018.

Sydney sandstones to become luxury hotel



Monday, October 26, 2015

In the Shadows- Painting the Justice and Police Museum

The Sydney Open will be held next Sunday. For just one day a year, the secrets of Sydney’s most treasured and architecturally significant buildings are revealed to the public.
So, in the spirit of this event, I decided to paint one of Sydney's most beautiful sandstone buildings.
Although it was difficult, bordering on the impossible,I managed to set up an easel and paint 'en plein air' right in the heart of the CBD.
Plein air oil painting of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums by heritage artist Jane Bennett
Plein air painting of the "Justice and Police Museum" 2015 oil on canvas 13 x 18cm
 
 
The Justice and Police Museum is one of the city's most overlooked heritage gems. It is hidden away on the quiet leafy corner of Phillip and Albert Streets, a stone's throw from Circular Quay.
It was a tight squeeze for the bendy bus!
Plein air oil painting of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums by heritage artist Jane Bennett
Plein air painting of the "Justice and Police Museum" 2015 oil on canvas 13 x 18cm
 
It incorporates the old Water Police Court (1856), designed by Edmund Blacket; the Water Police Station (1858), attributed to Alexander Dawson and the Police Court (1886), designed by James Barnet. 
The complex had remained in use as a police station as late as 1985, when the area was a busy legal hub.
Today the museum tells the story of the seamy side of Sydney’s past.

Plein air oil painting of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums by heritage artist Jane Bennett
Plein air painting of the "Justice and Police Museum" 2015 oil on canvas 13 x 18cm
 
The golden sandstone, graceful columns and dappled shade give a deceptive impression. 
Behind the elegant facade lurk dingy 1890s holding cells, offices, charge room and courts. A century of underworld Sydney is contained inside.
Plein air oil painting of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums by heritage artist Jane Bennett
Plein air painting of the "Justice and Police Museum" 2015 oil on canvas 13 x 18cm
 
The guilty, the innocent and the unknown.  Mug shots of bushrangers, sly groggers, drifters, razor gangs and "colourful racing identities" rub shoulders with cops and judges.
Plein air oil painting of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums by heritage artist Jane Bennett
Plein air painting of the "Justice and Police Museum" 2015 oil on canvas 13 x 18cm
 

So very Sydney.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows- Painting the Dunlop - Slazenger factory Part 2

The graffiti inside the abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite remember what it was.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory Soda panorama' 2015 oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
The walls are rich in texture, vibrant in colour and elaborate in detail. They are possibly full of hidden meanings, incomprehensible to the uninitiated, or it could be just random doodling.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory Soda panorama' 2015 oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 

The calligraphy is cursive and the chunky letters are interlocked like links in a chain, making the words hard to read yet hypnotic to look at.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 
There is a "horror vacui" - blank space isn't tolerated and won't last long.
Images are scattered throughout the factory, but the text dominates and has become imagery in its own right.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 
The letters are outlined in black, often with highlights of white or red on the ascenders (the parts of letters such as "h" "b" or "d" that extend above the line)  or descenders (the parts of letters such as "g" "q" or "j" that extend below the line) . Occasionally backgrounds of gold or silver add a bit more bling and some are even adorned with star bursts.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 

John Paul, the demolisher who had given me the heads up about the site, finally nailed it.
The Book of Kells, he said. (John Paul is Irish!)
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 Detail of 'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 
This is a close up of my painting of the graffiti on left hand wall, and you can see that John Paul really had a point. In another context, I could easily imagine one of the letters as a historiated initial in a medieval illuminated manuscript. A historiated initial is an enlarged letter at the beginning of a text, which contains a picture.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Detail of 'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 
This is a closeup detail of my painting of the graffiti in one of the small rooms to the left hand side. This font is dramatically serif (there is a large difference between thick and thin lines) and is extravagantly embellished with finials( tapered or curved ends), swashes (extended  decorative flourishes)and lachrymals (teardrop shapes).
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 Detail of 'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 
Many different hands have been at work here, overlapping and adding marginalia, drolleries and the odd obscenity.
 "Soda" has been written in a more "slab serif" style, where there is less difference between thick and thin lines.This tag stands out from its neighbours due to its cleaner font as well as its striking silver, black and pink colour scheme.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 Detail of windows in 'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'  2015  oil on canvas 91 x 183cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 
And what could go better with illuminated manuscripts, than stained glass windows?
These windows are very stained indeed. The graffiti is probably much older than on the walls, as they would have only been accessible when the building still had a roof, which was at least a couple of years ago.
There is no lead separating the colours, however, being a factory, the windows were made from glass strengthened by an internal diamond grid of wiremesh. Breaks in the glass add spiderweb patterns.
At sunset the window colours are reflected on the ground in a series of rainbows, an effect I last experienced visiting Chartres cathedral.
plein air painting of graffiti in the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory - 'Soda' panorama'   2015                   oil on canvas 91 x 183cm                                        Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
'Palimpsest - Painting the abandoned Dunlop - Slazenger factory' Part 1

Friday, June 19, 2015

The triumph of the machines

In April I was asked to paint some of the last manual port movements at the Patrick terminal in Port Botany.
Now the containers are still being unloaded by port workers, but automated straddle cranes stack the containers onto trucks, replacing many port workers.
I was permitted to paint and set up my easel a week before the April change-over.

plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting a panorama of Port Botany 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

My viewpoint was from a narrow balcony above a 2 storey gatehouse. On the ground floor was the First Aid room, while on the top floor port workers facing redundancy were receiving career advice.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting a panorama of Port Botany 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
From my vantage point I could see the yard being prepared for the new automated system.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting a panorama of Port Botany 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
In the centre, concrete barriers were arranged in grids to seperate the trucks from the construction.To the right, the giant stacks of containers were removed, leaving an eerily empty yard.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting a panorama of Port Botany 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
To the left is the new observation tower, as yet unmanned, where the new Autostrads will be controlled by radar.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting a panorama of Port Botany 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
At night it looked empty and lonely. As the new driverless vehicles are remotely controlled, there won't be the same requirement for lighting the yard.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting the giant straddle cranes  Port Botany 75 x 100cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
At the moment, the giant straddle cranes are still operating with drivers.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Painting the giant straddle cranes  Port Botany 75 x 100cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
One day the giant straddle cranes and even the trucks may become driverless.
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Paintings of Port Botany
Left to right: the giant straddle cranes  Port Botany 75 x 100cm oil on canvas 2015
 giant straddle cranes  Port Botany 100 x 75cm oil on canvas 2015
Night panorama straddle cranes  Port Botany 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015
 Port Botany panorama 31 x 153cm oil on canvas 2015

Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Night,containers,  Port Botany 25 x 31cm oil on canvas 2015
Night, Port Botany panorama 20 x 40cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
plein air oil painting by artist Jane Bennett of the last non automated straddle cranes operating at Patrick Terminal Port Botany
Night,containers,  Port Botany 25 x 31cm oil on canvas 2015
Night, Port Botany panorama 20 x 40cm oil on canvas 2015
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
I know that it's all in the name of efficiency, but when I left, it looked like a ghost town. As the last ship before the changeover was unloaded, a line formed of the old straddle cranes which were due to be scrapped soon after.
Ominously, I had met some of the same people both delivering and receiving career advice 7 years earlier when the East Darling Harbour Wharves  closed down to become Barangaroo.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Open House

A not very architecturally distinguished housing commission in the hinterland of Glebe/Ultimo was being demolished in 2011. 
I jumped the fence and painted some small plein air canvases while it was being demolished.

plein air oil painting of housing commission apartments in Cowper Street Glebe/Ultimo by artist Jane Bennett
 "Half demolished apartment block in Cowper Street Glebe/Ultimo"
2011 oil on canvas 15 x 15cm 

$250 
Enquiries - janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 The 'Mirragang' at first sight looks quite presentable, until the lack of glass in the windows hints at something not quite right....

plein air oil painting of housing commission apartments in Cowper Street Glebe/Ultimo by artist Jane Bennett
  'Open Plan'  -half demolished apartment block
in Cowper Street Glebe/Ultimo 
2011 oil on canvas 10 x 15cm
$150
Enquiries - janecooperbennett@gmail.com

The shell of the 'Mirragang' apartments on the left, and the 'Mirrabooka' on the right, frame the handsome dark brick building in the centre.
This former wool bond store, the Farmers and Graziers No 2 Store, was the last of the great bond stores, and replaced a swath of houses in 1936.
The low-lying swampy area of Glebe and Ultimo has always been known for cheap and often nasty housing.


 From the 1850s onwards, a jumble of workshops, slaughter yards, boiling-down works and other scrappy industries sprang up around the waters of Blackwattle Creek.  Cramped cottages without water or sewerage, were erected by landlords for the working poor.  People lived cheek by jowl with domestic animals. Refuse and offal from the slaughter yards often remained to rot on the mudflats.
However uninspired these redbrick tower blocks looked, they were a vast improvement on their predecessors.
plein air oil painting of housing commission apartments in Cowper Street Glebe/Ultimo by artist Jane Bennett
 'Open House' -
2011 oil on canvas 25 x 20cm

$450 
Enquiries - janecooperbennett@gmail.com

The patch of sky behind the half-demolished windows gives a feeling of a stage set.
These 15 public housing apartment blocks in Cowper Street, Glebe, were demolished by the state Labor government in 2011, resulting in the eviction of 130 tenants. Although new housing on the site was promised, to be funded by the proceeds of money raised by the sale of 99-year leases to Millers Point terraces, the land was left vacant for years as a development application was lodged and contested in court.
The O'Farrell cabinet approved construction plans for 153 public housing units, 95 affordable housing units and 247 private apartments on the site in 2013.
Now the Baird government has finally announced plans to rebuild this demolished public housing estate on Cowper Street as a mixed private, public and affordable housing community.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Vivid

I have an exhibition of paintings inspired by 'Vivid' now on display at the Four Seasons Hotel, 199 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney.
This hotel is almost 'Vivid Headquarters'. It is only 100 metres from the best vantage points to view the spectacular lighting the sails of the Opera House, and the facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Oil Painting inspired by Vivid festival- Nocturne of Sydney Harbour Bridge  from Lavender Bay painted by artist Jane Bennett
 'Vivid - Sydney Harbour Bridge  from Lavender Bay (Rainbow lights)' 2015 oil on canvas 102 x 200cm
$15,000
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
Brett Whiteley often painted the magnificent view from Lavender Bay.  It looks even better at night, however I don't think that many other artists have painted nocturnes of Sydney Harbour.
Oil Painting inspired by Vivid festival- Nocturne of Sydney Harbour Bridge  & Lighting the sails of the Sydney Opera House painted by artist Jane Bennett
 'Vivid -  Lighting the Sails-Luna Park on the Opera House' 

2015 oil on canvas 152 x 122cm
$13,000 
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Of all the images projected onto the sails of the Opera House, my favourite would be Luna Park. It revives memories of the cheeky imagery by Martin Sharp, Peter Kingston and other larrikin ratbag artists who revered and helped defend Luna Park.

Oil Painting inspired by Vivid festival hanging in the Four Seasons Hotel The Rocks Sydney- Nocturne of Sydney Harbour Bridge  & Lighting the sails of the Sydney Opera House painted by artist Jane Bennett
 Painting inspired by Vivid festival hanging in the Four Seasons Hotel in The Rocks Sydney -
From left to right : 
'Vivid -  Lighting the Sails-Luna Park on the Opera House' 2015 oil on canvas 152 x 122cm
'Fireship' oil on paper 136 x 112cm 
'Fireship' oil on canvas 61 x 91cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com 

Oil Painting inspired by Vivid festival- Nocturne of Sydney Harbour Bridge  from Lavender Bay painted by artist Jane Bennett
'Vivid - Sydney Harbour Bridge  from Lavender Bay (Rainbow lights)' 2015 oil on canvas 102 x 200cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
The angle of the lighting on the painting has cast a faint rainbow as a halo above the span of the Bridge.
See more at the Ultimate Art Gallery
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
199 George St, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
P.O Box 1347, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone: +61 (4) 35 844 347
Email: info@ultimateart.com.au

Open: Tue - Fri 10.30am - 7.00pm

 Sat 10.00am - 4.30pm Sun 1.00pm - 4.30pm



Thursday, May 28, 2015

Palimpsest- Painting the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger Factory

A palimpsest is a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing.


29-04-15 Starting my first canvas of the Dunlop-Slazenger factory. I don't know what the image is of or what it's called, so I've christened it "Yellow Eye"
The word is also used for something worked upon for one purpose and later reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
plein air painting of abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Yellow Eye" oil on canvas 75 x 100cm
plein air painting of abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Yellow Eye" oil on canvas 75 x 100cm
The walls of the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger Factory are a palimpsest - a fascinating mix of both creation and destruction. It's an insight into the way different generations alter the landscape of their ancestors.
The factory is full of ghosts.
plein air painting of abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Yellow Eye" oil on canvas 75 x 100cm
 I've recently been painting both inside and outside the abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria. 
It has been abandoned for about 25 years, and has innumerable layers of graffiti ranging from the sublimely talented to the ridiculously inept.
plein air painting of abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Yellow Eye" oil on canvas 75 x 100cm

On the second day of painting this canvas, I changed the composition to include the bizarre cartoon characters on the upper walls. There is a grotesque creature which is part baboon part wildebeast and part crocodile with wriggling worm-like hair, and two characters resembling demonic smurfs.
The glass has also been tagged, and the rays of the setting sun make it light up like the stained glass of Chartres cathedral.
plein air painting of abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Yellow Eye" oil on canvas 75 x 100cm
The building is now being sand-blasted back to the original brick and will be redeveloped for apartments.
plein air painting of abandoned Dunlop-Slazenger factory in Alexandria by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"Yellow Eye" oil on canvas 75 x 100cm
Such is progress, alas.

My extremely fashionable painting outfit. Lady Gaga will be copying this soon!

Painting in PPE (Personal protective equipment) I'm so protected I can hardly breathe.