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

HUNGRY MILE AND BARANGAROO PAINTINGS

These paintings are about the end of an era - the transformation of neglected industrial heritage in Sydney.
Since 2003 I have been painting on the wharves at Miller’s Point. Originally most of the northern edge of Sydney Harbour was fringed with fingerwharves; from Woolloomooloo to Circular Quay in the east and from the Walsh Bay Wharves and East Darling Harbour through to Darling Harbour and Pyrmont all the way around to Blackwattle Bay in the west. The most famous section of these wharves was the western edge of Miller's Point immortalized as the 'Hungry Mile'.
View article on poetry about the "Hungry Mile" by Ernest Antony


The Wharfies
Marine art - plein air oil painting of  wharfies, ship and container at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
'Lifting container 'Oceania Chief'' 2006 oil painting on canvas 25 x 20cm
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The container, attached to a yellow 'spreader' has been lifted by one of the 3 red cranes and the wharfies are about to position it on one of the black-hulled 'Chief' ships.
The scale of the men compared to the containers shows how dangerous stevedoring could be.
Break Bulk
Very few container ships were docked at Darling Harbour recently; most during the last 5 years went to Botany, which is container or "boxes" only. Port Kembla is now where most "break bulk" is unloaded, although Blackwattle Bay and to an increasingly lesser extent Glebe Island and White Bay still handle salt, cement and gypsum.
"Break bulk" is a term used for products which can't be transported in containers. It includes a wide mix of articles- from salt, gypsum, cement to timber, steel coils and heavy machinery as well as cars, trucks and boats.


plein air oil painting of  the Hungry Mile wharf at East Darling Harbour, now Barangaroo and Millers Point of the cargo ship the 'Poolgracht' by artist Jane Bennett
'The' Poolgracht 'with excavator' 2007
oil painting on canvas 51 x 41cm
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In this painting, a little mini excavator is being unloaded from one of Asia Shipping's Gracht ships, dangling from the L2 crane.
The Gracht ship often carried a rather incongruous payload. As well as a selection of excavators, mining or agricultural machinery and the ubiquitous rolls of steel coils which would lie for weeks inside the sheds; they would also carry luxurious 'hot-water' boats. Most of these were larger than my house, and probably cost more than the entire street I live in.
Some of these were so enormous that they looked almost capable of carrying the ship that brought them.


oil painting of  cranes and Wallenius Wilhelmsen ship 'Tamerlane'  at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"The Tamerlane in the rain" 2005
 oil on canvas 75 x 100 cm

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The 'Tamerlane' was one of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen fleet. The" Wilhelmsen" (originally Norwegian) ships were red and all their names began with the letter "T" eg "Toba", "Tortugas","Trianon" and of course the notorious "Tampa".
The "Wallenius" ships (originally Swedish) ships were dark green and named after Italian operas eg. "Tosca" "Madame Butterfly" "Don Giovanni" etc.
oil painting of  cranes and Wallenius Wilhelmsen ship 'Madame Butterfly'  at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"The 'Madame Butterfly'" 2005
oil painting on canvas 75 x 100cm
An example of one of the green Wallenius ships, with an Italian opera for its name. I found it quite comic to hear the wharfies say "Madame Butterfly's running a bit late today..."
They weren't a bit happy when I painted in all the rust.
oil painting of  forklift,containers and cargo ship 'Southern Cross'  at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
"The 'Southern Cross' (with Robbie and forklift)"
2007 oil on canvas 31 x 92cm

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The hatches are being opened. I found the slow folding and unfolding of these to be hypnotic, and after a few frustrating failed attempts to paint this I finally succeeded. After a few years familiarizing myself with the quirks of the ships and cranes, I finally became able to roughly predict the sequence of events from the arrival to the departure of a ship. I managed to be in the right place at the right time to see the most interesting aspects and fast and accurate enough to capture them on canvas.
The East Darling Harbour Wharves during their last 5 operational years, used to handle the whole spectrum of these items, so they were especially fascinating wharves to paint on as I'd never know what to expect; from steel coils from the "Gracht" ships to cars whizzing past me like outtakes from "The Italian Job" from the gigantic vermilion Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ro-ros ("roll-on, roll off"- Some of the wharfies who fancied themselves as comedians would call the Ro-ros "Roll-on, roll-overs" after one unfortunate ship accidentally opened its ramp while at sea and headbutted another ship)
View article "Great cars going deep" about this incident

A view from the Bridge
plein air oil painting of  the Hungry Mile wharf at East Darling Harbour, now Barangaroo and Millers Point & the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the bridge of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen cargo ship the 'Talabot' by artist Jane Bennett
'Miller's point from the Bridge of the 'Talabot' Diptych' 2006 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm each  
Total image 31 x 122 cm  
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A panorama of the East Darling Harbour Wharves painted from the bridge of the MV Talabot, one of the fleet of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ro-ros. This gives an idea of the enormous size and scale of the area.
Shed 3, the former home of the Customs Division, is to the far left. Shed 4, former home of P&O, is the shed directly beneath me in the centre . Shed 5, to the extreme right, was the former home of Patrick Stevedoring and Patrick Defence Logistics, and my usual headquarters.
During the last 18 months of port operations, I was allocated the old Port Captain's office as a place to keep my ever-increasing stockpile of paintings.

The end of an Era

The wharf has now closed forever and Sydney’s traditional role as a working harbour will soon be over as this was followed by the end of most marine operations at Glebe Island, after the departure of the ex-HMAS Adelaide.
For Sydney Harbour no longer to be a working port and to be stripped of its original character and purpose, is almost unthinkable.
plein air oil painting of  the Hungry Mile wharf at East Darling Harbour, now Barangaroo and Millers Point of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen cargo ship the 'Tampa by artist Jane Bennett
'The last call of the 'Tampa' docking at Wharf 5, East Darling Harbour' 
2007 oil on canvas 31 x 103 cm
The notorious 'Tampa' arriving at the East Darling Harbour Wharves for the very last time in September 2007.It was the 3rd last cargo ship to be worked on the East Darling Harbour Wharves.
In June 2010 another cargo ship, the 'Maersk Gateshead' docked for a week at the site of the former Wharf 5, but it was stranded there after engine failure and no containers were loaded or unloaded.

View Daily Telegraph article : 'End of a proud Maritime era'

plein air poil painting of the last ship 'Southern Moana' on the East Darling Harbour Wharves (Hungry Mile) now Barangaroo painted by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
DH247 'The last ship on the wharf 'Southern Moana' 2007 oil on canvas 28 x 36cm


The Last Ships
The last operational cargo ship to berth at Darling Harbour, the ‘Southern Moana’, arrived and left on the 28th September 2007 in a blaze of publicity. During the wharf's last few weeks as a working port, I watched the dismantling of all cargo-loading infrastructure as the 3 shore cranes have been driven onto a massive barge and sailed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge bound for Port Kembla.

Moore's Wharf
Moore’s Wharf on Walsh Bay at Millers Point was established in the 1830 by Henry Moore, the first Australian P & O agent. The sandstone warehouse designed by William Long was built by convict labour with stone quarried on site. Moore bought the wharf and accompanying building from Long in 1837. It was originally located 100 metres to the west but in 1978 was moved, stone by stone, to its present location when it became the Operational Headquarters of the Sydney Ports Corporation.
The precedent has been set - if it has been moved once, it could be moved again. There are no guarantees that this handsome heritage sandstone building will have any place in the new precinct of Barangaroo, especially as the architects and designers concerned with the project seem hell-bent on removing all vestiges of maritime heritage and history from the whole area.
gouache & watercolour painting on paper of Forum Samoa with tugs from the top of the Harbour Contro; Tower by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'The 'Forum Samoa' with tugs, from the top of the Harbour Control Tower' 2007
gouache on paper 75 x 100cm


The Emergency Response vessels such as the 'Ted Noffs' moored at Moore's Wharf are used by Sydney Ports Corporation on Sydney Harbour.

Jeffrey Smart, eat your heart out!


I contrast paintings of the area as a working port with the bustling activity of trucks, forklifts, cranes and ships with paintings of the eerie emptiness of the same place just a few weeks later. The red containers, trucks,cranes and witches hats echo the surrealist elements of the paintings of Jeffrey Smart - but the difference is that all the subject matter of my paintings was actually there in front of me, not formally arranged at leisure in the privacy of a pristine white studio.

plein air oil painting of wharf buildings and Sydney Harbour Control Tower at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
"The yard from the port captain's office" 
2007 oil painting on canvas 91 x 122 cm
This is Barangaroo as it used to be as a working port. Compare this painting with the empty wharf painting that follows. Jeffrey Smart, eat your heart out!
plein air oil painting of wharf buildings and Sydney Harbour Control Tower at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
"The empty wharf" 
2007 oil painting on canvas 100 x 122cm
plein air oil painting of wharf buildings and Sydney Harbour Control Tower at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
'The empty wharf' 
oil on canvas 25 x 51 cm 2009
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The 'Dead House' 
oil painting of tally boxes at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
DH156A Relics from the 'Dead House- Hook and gloves
2007 oil on canvas 61x61cm
As the wharf became a ghost town, I painted the evocative relics from the ‘dead rooms’- wooden tally boxes used to keep records before the days of computers, trolleys used to lug wool bales before containers were invented, and hooks for rolling timber that although still being used in the late 1970’s looked more like artefacts from the early Iron Age!

The Sydney Harbour Control Tower
oil painting of wharf buildings and Sydney Harbour Control Tower at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
'Sydney Harbour Control Tower, the escarpment and Clyne reserve from Shed 3'
 2007  oil painting on canvas 46 x 36 cm   
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watercolour and gouache painting on paper of panorama of Barangaroo & Pyrmont from the top of the Harbour Control Tower by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
The Hungry Mile from the Harbour Control Tower
2008 gouache on paper 95 x 126cm 

The 'Doulos'
Cruise ships continued to dock at Darling Harbour Wharf 5 until the "Doulos" (formerly the "Roma") in mid 2008. After the "Doulos", cruise ships docked at Wharf 8 until its demolition in June 2010, when a new temporary cruise ship facility was hastily erected at Wharf 5.

oil painting of the ship 'Doulos' at the Hungry Mile, now Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
'The Doulos-last cruise ship at DH5'
 2008 oil on canvas 25 x 51cm  

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plein air oil painting of the East Darling Harbour Wharves (Hungry Mile) now Barangaroo by industrial heritage painter Jane Bennett
'The empty wharf from shed 6' 
2008 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm

Demolition
The once bustling wharf has suddenly become eerily silent; soon the demolition will begin.
The former wharf buildings were demolished by Cardinal Services in 2 stages, spurred on by the timetable of World Youth Day. Cardinal set up its headquarters in the old amenities block opposite the former maintenance depot that was in Shed 6 at the southern end of the Wharf.
They started demolition of Shed 6 to the south in January 2008 and worked their way northwards through sheds 5 and 4, finishing with Shed 3 and the gatehouse opposite Moore's Wharf at the northern end by May.


plein air oil painting of wharf at East Darling Harbour Wharves (Hungry Mile) now Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Shed 6, during demolition from the ramp' 
2008 oil on canvas 25 x 51cm
The next round of demolition began in August 2010 with the demolition of the cruise ship terminal Wharf 8 and the former Sydney Ports Corporation Maintenance Depot at the southernmost end of the Wharf.

World Youth Day
plein air oil painting of World Youth Day from the top of the Harbour Control Tower by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'World Youth Day 2008 preparations' 
oil painting on canvas 60 x 50 cm
Rehearsal for the 'Crucifixion' One of the 'Stages of the Cross'
The now empty site used for public non-maritime events such as the "World Youth Day" 2008.

The Temporary Cruise Ship Facility


oil painting of 'Pacific Jewel' at the new temporary cruise ship terminal Barangaroo by artist Jane Bennett
'The 'Pacific Jewel ' arrives at the new temporary facility at Darling Harbour'- Diptych 2010 
oil painting on canvas 25 x 51 cm each 
Total image size 25 x 102cm 
The cruise ship buildings at Wharf 8 were last used by the 'Pacific Jewel' in June 2010, also coincidentally the first cruise ship to use the new temporary facilities at Barangaroo.
All the wharf buildings have now been demolished by Bovis LendLease. The entire site will now be developed by Lendlease for the Barangaroo Delivery Authority.
A temporary cruise ship facility was built on the site of Wharf 5 at Darling Harbourin 2010 and operated for 2 years.The cruise ships have now moved to White Bay despite the misgivings of the shipping industry.
Two centuries of maritime history have come to an end.

The End of the Wharf as we know it

plein air oil painting of interior of abandoned cruise ship terminal Wharf 8 Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
"MAY OPEN WITHOUT WARNING ! 
(Inside the loading dock of the former Cruise ship Terminal at Darling Harbour 8)" 2010
oil painting on canvas 56 x 76cm
Through the doorway is the Sydney Harbour Control Tower and the marquee used for the temporary cruise ship facilities by Sydney Ports Corporation.

Poignant reminders of the site's previous function create ironic, even surrealist undertones.
This building was demolished in late August 2010.

It was only opened in 1999.
plein air oil painting of interior of abandoned cruise ship terminal Wharf 8 Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'MAY CLOSE WITHOUT WARNING!'
(Inside the loading dock of the former Cruise ship Terminal at Darling Harbour 8)" 2010
oil painting on canvas 56 x 76cm
plein air oil painting of interior of abandoned cruise ship terminal Wharf 8 Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
BAR3 'I saw the number 8 in red...' 2010 oil on canvas 51 x 76 cm

plein air oil painting of demolition of  cruise ship terminal Wharf 8 Barangaroo by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
'Collapse' 
oil painting on canvas 2010 31 x 41 cm


This is the last wharf on Barangaroo, the former Wharf 8, where the cruise ships used to dock. Last used operationally in June 2010, and demolished by the end of August 2010.
View an article about "Trains, Cranes and Ships" 2007 my solo exhibition at the National Trust Headquarters

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

The following is a quote from Alain de Botton's 'Pleasures and Sorrows of Work' that I found especially meaningful :

Cargo Ship Spotting
Every day of the year, in ports all over the world, vast cargo ships sail in, unnoticed by almost all of us who rely on their merchandise. However, at the perimeter of harbours, you’ll often find a curious group of people standing around in waterproof clothing, armed with binoculars and pads. These cargo ship spotters keep a meticulous track of the activity on the water. They are interested in the ships’ length, provenance, engines and ownership. Society tells us that there is nothing wrong spending time in art galleries admiring seascapes - and yet cargo ship spotting has a bad name in many quarters. It’s seen as obsessive and strange. The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work celebrates the curiosity and eccentricity of the world’s ship spotters and suggests that these people have a lesson to teach us all about the value of observing bits of the economy in ways that are not simply financial and numerical: in other words, in looking at them a little as we might a work of art.



In other words 'useful' things are seen as ugly simply because they are functional. It takes a great artist to teach people to truly look at something that is right in front of them and yet strangely invisible.

Related posts from my blogs
Painting Miller's Point from the top of Harbour Control Tower New Year's Eve 2010- Part 3 : Panorama
Painting the International Fleet Review at Barangaroo (janebennettartist.blogspot.com)
Something old-Something New- Some paintings at Barangaroo (barangarooartist.blogspot.com)
Storm warning, Goat Island (barangarooartist.blogspot.com)

See my Page of Millers Point Paintings

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