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

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Rust bucket

The now derelict 'William Wallbank and Sons' was a foundry on the Parramatta Road, Auburn, dating from 1932. One of their specialties had been making the components for brick making machines.
In 2008 I exhibited a series of paintings that I had created of old brickworks at Eastwood, St Peters and Brookvale at the Museum of Sydney during the book launch of "The Brickmasters"  , a comprehensive history of brickmaking in Australia by Ron Ringer. At the launch I met Frank Wallbank, who invited me to paint in the foundry, but unfortunately I delayed taking up his offer.
A friend alerted me to the foundry's closure and I was able to contact the new owner and arrange access to paint. I am kicking myself for not getting there while it was still working, but better late than never!
plein air oil painting of ladles at abandoned foundry "William Wallbank & Sons" in Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW2 'Watching the forge fires fade ('William Wallbank + Sons' )
2016 oil on canvas 61 x 91cm
Highly Commended 2016 Auburn Art Prize
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 In a foundry, metal is melted into liquid in a furnace. To cast the metal into shapes, the molten liquid is then poured into a mould in the shape of the desired part.
Simple designs can be made in a single piece or solid pattern. More complex designs are made in two parts, known as a split pattern, which has a top section,or "cope", and a bottom section, called a "drag". Patterns can be made from wax, wood, plastic, or metal.


plein air oil painting of ladles at abandoned foundry "William Wallbank & Sons" in Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW2 'Watching the forge fires fade ('William Wallbank + Sons' )
2016 oil on canvas 61 x 91cm
Highly Commended 2016 Auburn Art Prize 
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
Traditionally, moulds were poured by hand, using ladles. It must have been horrifically dangerous.
I was told that all the foundry workers were supposed to wear a special sort of protective covering over their boots, similar to old-fashioned "spats" to stop the molten metal droplets burning their skin, but these were unpopular as the metal would still find a way to trickle down the gap and into their boots. Instead of protecting, the boot covering seemed to cause even more damage.
plein air oil painting of ladles at abandoned foundry "William Wallbank & Sons" in Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW2 'Watching the forge fires fade ('William Wallbank + Sons' )
2016 oil on canvas 61 x 91cm
Highly Commended 2016 Auburn Art Prize 
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Now modern foundries use robots or automatic pouring machines to pour the molten metal.
As the metal cools it solidifies and then the mould (known as a 'casting') is removed.
plein air oil painting of ladles at abandoned foundry "William Wallbank & Sons" in Auburn by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
AWW2 'Watching the forge fires fade ('William Wallbank + Sons' )
2016 oil on canvas 61 x 91cm
Highly Commended 2016 Auburn Art Prize
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com



My canvas of this set of 3 abandoned ladles was recently runner-up in the 2016 Auburn Art Prize, held in the Peacock Gallery opposite the Botanical Gardens.
The central ladle has a capacity of 7 tons, and is flanked by a "three tonner" on the left, and a "four tonner" on the right. All of these ladles would date from at least 70 years ago. They could even date from the earliest years of the foundry, as they are all rivetted, so they must date from a time before welding had replaced rivetting.  Only the largest ladles were fitted with brakes to help modulate the flow of pouring the molten metal.
I'm only able to gain access to paint in my strange new "studio" when the gates are opened to remove machinery, and I need to ring up on the night before. Sometimes potential new owners come to inspect the premises, but they rarely stay for long.

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