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, March 28, 2017

This is how the light gets in

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

“Anthem,” by Leonard Cohen from his 1992 album The Future.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a small square canvas 46 x 46cm of two windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

These are healing words to someone who often struggles under the unbearable weight of perfectionism. It is more than a confrontation with the strange beauty of broken things. It is a powerful message of hope in dark times.There is a crack in everything whether a physical object such as a piece of machinery, or even a state of mind.But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where we can find the transcendence we need to interpret painful events in a wider context.
Literally, nothing, and nobody is perfect.That should not be a source of despair or frustration. Imperfection is a sign of life.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a small square canvas 46 x 46cm of two windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
If the purpose of a window is to be able to let an observer see outside, or to illuminate the interior, the windows of the Large Erecting Shop of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops fail spectacularly.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'2 windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
However, the evocative effects created by sunlight filtering through the grid of rusty bars rival the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'2 windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
Every pane is a unique mix of translucency and texture.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window. The completed  painting  " '2 windows and a door, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm" is against the barrier behind.
Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

Their ethereal opalescent quality is not caused by expensive designer frosting, but by more than a century's buildup of deposits of dirt, pigeon droppings, steam and diesel fumes.
plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
 And there are cracks galore.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Starting a 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
 Other imperfections abound.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Half finished 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window. The completed  painting of " '2 windows and a door in the Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm" can be seen on the right.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
Ghost signs warning of the dangers of long lost machinery alternate with boarded over panes in abstract patterns that would make Mondriaan's head spin.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Half finished 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

 Doors are abruptly cut into them, apparently at random.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Half finished 91 x 61cm canvas of the strange green window.
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com
 
An inexplicably green pane of glass casts an eerie phosphorescent glow.

plein air oil painting of windows in the Large Erecting Shop in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
 "Window with pane of green glass" 2017  oil on canvas 91 x 61cm
 Enquiries : janecooperbennett@gmail.com

When the Large Erecting Shop is redeveloped, the windows will be replaced with uncracked clear panes to match the rest of the gentrified ATP.
No rogue panes of eldritch green glass will startle the viewer with their otherworldly light. They will be made safe, watertight, functional, identical and boring.
The chaotic jumble of heritage machinery in the Large Erecting Shop will be culled and tamed. There will be nothing accidental, mysterious or inexplicable.
There will soon be no cracks left to let the light in.
More paintings of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops are on the Eveleigh page of this blog. 

 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Eaten by robots


plein air oil painting of the Harbour Control Tower, Millers Point near Barangaroo by industrial & maritime heritage artist Jane Bennett
MP55 Harbour Control Tower from Observatory Hill 2016
oil on paper 9.5 x 9.5cm

Another one of my old studios has bitten the dust.
I feel like I can jinx a place just by painting it. I have been observing the start of the demolition of the Port Operations Harbour Tower in Millers Point.
Love it or loathe it, the Tower was one of the last vestiges of Barangaroo's former life as a working port.

The heart and soul of the former 'Hungry Mile' has been ripped out and replaced with machines.
Literally.
plein air oil painting of the Harbour Control Tower, Millers Point near Barangaroo, with the Palisade Hotel by industrial & maritime heritage artist Jane Bennett
MP56 Harbour Control Tower from Argyle st 2016 oil on paper 9.5 x 9.5cm
 
Once the 'mushroom cap' at the top of the Tower was fully removed, the concrete stem below it was eaten away by robotic excavators from the top down. Just another portent of the world envisioned by Isaac Asimov in his book “I, Robot. Technology asserts its robotic grip whether you like it or not. Progress is so impersonal.
Eaten by robots- what a way to go!
So very Dr Who. "Exterminate, exterminate!"
plein air oil painting of the Harbour Control Tower, Millers Point near Barangaroo, from the Palisade Hotel by industrial & maritime heritage artist Jane Bennett
 MP54 Harbour Control Tower from the Hotel Palisade 2016-7 
oil on canvas 122 x 153cm

Meanwhile paint peels off surrounding terraces awaiting their inevitable gentrification. The Hotel Palisade opposite has completed its journey from early opening waterfront dive to hipster hub, while retaining some of the trappings of its colourful past.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ghost train

plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm


 There has been a lot of uncertainty about the future of the 3801 Ltd, and even of the Large Erecting Shop itself.  Many of the relics will probably be lost or put into storage.
plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
 This old office in the Large Erecting shop of Eveleigh Railway Workshops, had been used to store stacks of windows and doors waiting to be repaired to refurbish a carriage.
In front of it are lathes, drills and boxes of rusting tools that obviously are many decades old.
plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm

This old office is an example of the sort of item that may not be kept, despite its historical interest.
Before it was used to store windows, it had been the headquarters of the 512 year restoration of 3830, which was carried out by a team of about 12 volunteers from the Powerhouse Museum and 3801 Limited.
There are still ghost signs that haven't been erased from when the restoration of 3830 started in 1992.
plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
 On the weathered sky blue boards are inscriptions in white chalk about its time of service.

"3830 18 years 11 months 4 days
Into service 27/9/49
Withdrawn 31/10/67 (Illegible) birthday 23 years
Cost £53,145/2/0 Basic Wage 4/8 11/20d/hour 
Builders' No 170 40 hours £8/12/0 approx"
plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
Work in progress - 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
The blackboard on the left hand side of the window of the old office has a mysterious list of the 38 class locos, split into 2 sections.
The left hand side of the blackboard starts with 3826, 3830, 3802, 3801, 3810, 3812, 3825, 3804, 3813, 3826, 3823, 3818, 3808, 3807, then there is a vertical line.
On the other side 3806 has been almost erased, then 3814, 3811, 3819, 3828, 3806, 3809, 3811, then a few illegible words with "38's are great mate" written over them.
plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
I had wondered why the numbers had been written in such a haphazard order, and why some were missing and others repeated.
It was obviously not chronological, but there was obviously a reason behind it.
The secret was finally revealed by a veteran of the restoration.
The 3830 was a sort of 'Frankenstein's monster', composed of parts cannibalized from other 38 class locos. 
The list of 38 class locos refers to the original source of particular items that finally ended up as part of 3830. 
Ironically, the current (although now non-functioning) boiler of the 3830, was the original boiler of the 3801! The saga of the many attempts to fix /replace the current boiler of 3801 has been dragging on since 2007.
plein air oil painting on canvas of 'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Engine shop, Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh Railway Workshops' 2017 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
Unfortunately restoration and maintenance is not regarded as a priority in the proposed future of this building.
I think that this is a short sighted policy that shows an appalling lack of respect to all the hard work carried out over so many decades by so many volunteers. This attitude will lead to the loss of irreplaceable heritage items and skills.