Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Art of Painting in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

Gone in 60 seconds
Yesterday they started to pulverize the power poles. I can't sit where I have been for the last week and finish my diptych, which was going to be a panorama of the whole site. When they have finished I can return to the spot, however the blocks which were to have been the whole key of the composition will be gone.
On the other hand, Andrew, the site foreman, has assured me that the big red statue of the number "8", to which I have taken quite a fancy, won't be demolished for at least a week.
 Hear no evil (or anything else)
I had to use hearing protection to cope with the noise. The hearing protection on this site is a rather snazzy set of fluoro orange earbuds attached to a headset rather than the usual rolled up bits of pink and  orange foam. However the headset is way too big for the back of my head and I got it in a dreadful tangle with my hard hat balanced precariously on top of my cap with its sun-veil at the back, my scarf and safety glasses and my Bovis LendLease lanyard with my site passport. As usual the photo on my ID gives me the expression of an escaped lunatic who has just been shot in the back with a poisoned arrow. So does everyone else's; I'm glad mine doesn't stand out. Would the headset be less uncomfortable up over my hard hat or flapping down around my shoulders? Neither of these positions worked so I finally clamped it over my sunveil; not the most hygienic solution but at least it stopped drilling painfully into my ears. Today I gave up on these ear-drillers and brought my enormous old ear muffs out of retirement. They certainly dull the noise but wearing them is like having a pair of buckets stuck either side of my head. When someone speaks to me I have to clamp them to the top of my hard hat, in a way that reminds me slightly of Mickey Mouse ears. With all this heavy duty ear protection, I don't know why my ears still stick out at right angles like Tony Abbot's, they should be squashed so flat by now that I'm wearing them internally.
My cap does prevent most of my face and ears from getting sunburnt, and has a useful little gap at the back for my ponytail  but unfortunately it has the words "Frontline" written in bold yellow capitals at the front. This is not as you might think in honour of the famous dog and cat flea killing powder- this word is also the motto of Australian Customs and Quarantine; this cap was a souvenir of painting a commission for someone who worked for them when Barangaroo was still a working port.
I am still clumsy when attaching or removing my flashing orange beacon to or from the car. I keep forgetting it's there and open the car door suddenly, or drive off site with it still flashing merrily away.
In the afternoon it gets very dusty as the wind direction changes from westerly to a nor-easter. They hose down the dust as much as possible, but I am now wearing a face mask as an extra precaution. It's not specifically required, but I think that it would be sensible. However I feel so trussed up that I can barely move and resemble a badly decorated Xmas tree.

Fast work
I have completed 2 small canvases yesterday and another 2 today. Not bad going! Yesterday, the first was of the pulverizing of the power poles. I was told not to bother as there would only be 2 hours or so before I would have to move, as the excavator would soon start on the second block. I had just enough time to paint a 15 x 30 cm canvas. The second was a small square painting of a "Grabber", one of the attachments for the excavators. Today I painted a "Muncher" to match the "Grabber" on the same format canvas, and the green waterpump draining the giant pool of water caused by the hosing down of the dust.

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