Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art exhibition : Recent Paintings by Jane Bennett

From Barangaroo to Double Bay :
My paintings for sale -

on Display at the Frances Keevil Gallery until 8th October 2010

"I saw the number '8' in red... "2010  
oil painting on canvas  51 x 76cm
See my post : I saw the number '8' in red...

"Out of time " oil painting on canvas 31 x 31 cm

See my post : Barangaroo terminal -'Out of time' 

"Keep Area clear" 
(Inside the loading dock of the former Cruise ship Terminal at Darling Harbour 8)  
2010  oil painting on canvas 51 x 76cm

Painted from a similar viewpoint as "May close without warning..."

"MAY CLOSE WITHOUT WARNING (Inside the loading dock of the former Cruise ship Terminal at Darling Harbour 8)"
oil painting on canvas 51 x 76cm

"Night, 'Pacific Jewel'  from the bridge of the Maersk Gateshead" 2010 
oil painting on canvas 61 x 91 cm

"The Pacific Jewel arrives for the first time 
at the new temporary facilities at Barangaroo" 2010 
oil painting on canvas 
36 x 46 cm

"The Pacific Jewel arrives for the first time 
at the new temporary facilities at Barangaroo"
Diptych Left hand canvas 2010 
oil painting on canvas 25 x 51 cm each 
Total image size 25 x 102cm

Each canvas : $1,400  Diptych : $2,800 

"The Pacific Jewel arrives for the first time 
at the new temporary facilities at Barangaroo"
Diptych: Right hand canvas 2010 oil painting on canvas 25 x 51 cm each 
Total image size 25 x 102cm

Each canvas : $1,400  Diptych : $2,800
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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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eight (ate)

Barangaroo : Demolition of Wharf 8

"Eight (ate)" 2010 unfinsihed oil painting on canvas 31 x 25 cm
The Wharf building is now demolished. All that remains is a pile of twisted metal, and the giant red numeral.
The forked sign painted at the foot of the 8 is actually really there, but to me it symbolizes the whole dilemma of Barangaroo, of Sydney and possibly of Australia itself. Caught between two possible directions (remember the election anybody?) equally poised between looking back and moving forward. Progress and change are needed, but in which direction?
Update on eight (ate)

'Eight (ate)' 2010  oil painting on canvas 31 x 25 cm

The finished painting.

Monday, September 13, 2010


The Drill Rig at South Barangaroo
"The Drill rig" 2010 oil painting on canvas 30 x 40cm
A core sample is being taken on South Barangaroo, to make sure that there are no nasty little surprises when construction starts.

Incidentally, all of Barangaroo is landfill.
When I painted on the K.E.N.S. Site (the "Kent, Erskine, Napoleon and Sussex street block " which is now the new Westpac headquarters) next to Moreton's pub (known as the 'Big House' by the wharfies) I saw steps that were unearthed that once belonged to an early 19th century Fingerwharf, and must have roughly coincided with the original shoreline. They were halfway between Kent and Sussex Street - so anything west of Sussex Street is fill.

Don't forget your toothpaste! (A little amateur archaeology)

A couple of the men from Coffey and Macquarie Drilling have worked at the same sites that I have painted at! These include the former A.G.L. Site at Mortlake, developed by Rosecorp (which is now known as 'Breakfast Point') and the Carleton United Brewery site at Chippendale, which is still underway. One wet and miserable day at the Carleton United Brewery site, I was offered some of the old bottles and jars to paint by the archaeologists, instead of struggling through the mud laden with an easel to paint the chimney in the pouring rain. A few weeks later, the archaeologists generously made their spare finds available for the construction workers to souvenir. I suppose that an old brewery site wouldn't suffer from a lack of bottles! I took a small selection of 19th century ceramic and glass bottles, including perfume jars, ink bottles and a big brown 'Geneva' bottle (mother's ruin or gin), but one of the men on the drill rig team had a real prize - a small ceramic jar with lacy craquelure that once contained an early 19th century version of toothpaste! When we realized that we both were proud owners of these relics, I brought my paintings of the CUB finds and the bottles to Barangaroo and he brought in his toothpaste jar for me to paint.
My Carleton United Brewery still life can be seen on my 'Urban Landscape' page on my other blog, 'Industrial Revelation'.
This is their 2nd last hole before the drill rig team pack up and leave Barangaroo.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Barangaroo : Terminal- Demolition

The demolition of Wharf 8
'Collapse' oil painting on canvas 36 x 46 cm
There isn't much left of the main building now, and this morning the last gantry was demolished about 10am.
Ironically it was taken down by the very same man who built the other gantry, (the orange one that stood closest to King Street Wharf) only 8 years ago.
I've been torn between wanting to paint the spectacular collapse of the main Arrivals Hall to the south, from the vantage point of the giant statue of the number '8' and the pulling down of the gantries about 300 metres walk from this.
Previously, I could leave my easel in a corner of one of Cardinal's sheds, but today they have started to move all their tables,chairs and equipment out in preparation for the move to the sheds being completed at the north-western end of the compound. So it looks like several long walks back to my car dragging lots of heavy equipment.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The first cut is the deepest

Barangaroo :  Demolition starts of former Cruise ship Terminal at Darling Harbour Wharf 8
'The '800' demolishing the Gantries' 2010 oil painting on canvas 36 x 46 cm
The Gantries

'The Gantries' Unfinished oil painting on canvas 36 x 46cm
Breakfast in the ruins
'Gantry (keep)' Almost finished oil painting on canvas 46 x 36 cm
I had wondered if the gantries were to be kept intact & possibly recycled for use at the new cruise ship terminal soon to be built at White Bay.
They are instead about to be demolished by the very same man who built the orange gantry only 8 years ago.
The MUA has just linked an article about my paintings of the Hungry Mile & Barangaroo on their website to my other blog, "Industrial Revelation".

Barangaroo : Terminal - Facade

A last look at Wharf 8, the former Cruise Ship Terminal

'Wharf 8- facade with red door' 2010 Unfinished oil on canvas 31 x 61 cm.

'The Red Door closes' unfinished oil painting on canvas 25 x 51 cm

Barangaroo : Terminal -The Artist's Studio

My Studio at Barangaroo : Works in progress

Painting inside the the former Cruise ship Terminal at Darling Harbour 8 painted in July-August 2010. 

"Red Square"

A race against time

I make the big move out of the terminal

"Grabber,Muncher, Ripper,"
"Grabber, ripper,muncher" 2010 oil painting on canvas 31 x 31cm
Yes, they actually are the proper names of the attachments to the excavators! I'm not making them up. Truly.
The "Grabber" is in the centre, the "Ripper" is the wicked looking blade on the right, while the "Muncher" is the monster with the fluoro pink "eye" & the toothy jaws in front of the red door to the left. The workmen promised me that there is also a "Pulverizer" that will arrive later. This I have to see!
A good day at the office
The very last day that I was able to leave my easels and canvases inside the terminal. I've now moved my stuff into a room in the loading dock of the old Sydney Ports Corporation Maintenance building that has been recently used to display the designs for Barangaroo. Not for long, apparently - Bovis LendLease has already moved the entrance twice and I've noticed construction of new site offices starting in the north-west corner. This building will obviously be the next to go after the DH8 terminal. Exactly when is anyone's guess.

Barangaroo : 'Grabber, Ripper, Muncher'

Barangaroo : 'Grabber, Ripper, Muncher'
'Grabber, Ripper, Muncher'  2010 oil painting on canvas 31 x 31 cm

As well as "Grabber", "Muncher" and "Ripper" I have learnt some more evocative & descriptive terms for the attachments to excavators. "What are those bucket-like things on the end of them?" I tentatively asked. "Buckets" was the reply. I must be getting the hang of it now. The buckets with teeth are called "toothed buckets" and the blunt ones are called "mud buckets". Sheer poetry.

Barangaroo : Terminal- 'Out of Time'

Inside the former cruise ship terminal at Wharf 8, Barangaroo

The completed painting "Out of time " unfinished oil painting on canvas 31 x 31 cm
A poignant little genre painting. Stopped clocks; a security sign; an abandoned storeroom. Industrial memento mori. I found a plaque commemorating the opening of this building - 1999. Not all that long ago, but already it seems like an eon has passed.
Sydney Ports Corporation has just arrived to take possession of this sign. I found it's inscription hilarious - it was about how passengers with cardiac pacemakers were not to go through the X ray machines, but had to be bodily searched by the security guards! if they didn't have heart problems to start with they would when they finished; all the excitement might prove too much!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Barangaroo: I saw the number '8' in red...

Barangaroo : Terminal -Arrivals Hall

This is an unfinished oil painting on canvas of the interior of the deserted former cruise ship terminal at Darling Harbour Wharf 8, Barangaroo.

My first day of painting this canvas:

'I saw the number '8' in red... '  oil painting on canvas 56 x 76cm
Enquiries about similar paintings : 
The title is my homage to the 1928 Charles Demuth painting "I saw the number 5 in gold..", an icon of American Modernism. Like Demuth, I never let go of reality.
The 2nd day of this painting :

'I saw the number '8' in red... '  oil painting on canvas 56 x 76cm
Enquiries about similar paintings : 

The 2nd day of this painting- nearly finished, but needs glazing to emphasize the reflections & the dramatic shafts of light from the doorways.

The completed painting:'I saw the number '8' in red... '  oil painting on canvas 56 x 76cm
Enquiries about similar paintings : 

Starting my 2nd painting of the interior of the Arrivals Hall:
Setting out a rough idea of the composition:
"I saw the number '8' in red" 2010 unfinished oil painting on canvas  61 x 183cm
Starting work on a large panoramic interior of the Arrivals Hall. This is a Saturday, and apart from the bored security guards on the gate I have the whole place more or less to myself so it is eerily silent.
For a change I have managed to get here early. I've been battling a killer bout of flu for over a month and I've had to push myself to keep working. My throat has been so sore that I can only eat jelly and chicken soup for the last week. I've taken in a thermos of icecubes to numb my throat and they seem to help. Whinge, whinge. This is totally self inflicted- I've been painting outdoors in the middle of winter on a freezing cold wharf in a howling gale & to misquote Alice in Wonderland it is bound to disagree with you sooner or later. However I wouldn't swap what I do for anything; it keeps me endlessly fascinated. I only wish that I wouldn't get ill just at this crucial point in the history of Sydney Harbour - this is the last wharf on the historic Hungry Mile, which has been the fountainhead of Australia's maritime industry since settlement over 200 years ago, and it will be demolished in less than a fortnight! No other artist in Australia seems to have an MSIC or a greencard; so I am the only person permitted to paint any of this.

Half way through my 1st day of painting :
"I saw the number '8' in red" 2010 unfinished oil painting on canvas  61 x 183cm
Enquiries about similar paintings :  

At the end of the first day:
"I saw the number '8' in red" 2010 unfinished oil painting on canvas  61 x 183cm
Enquiries about similar paintings :  
I have used 'terminal' as part of the title of paintings in this series as a play on words. The following nuances of meaning I found particularly apt :
1.situated at or forming the end or extremity of something...
2. occuring at or forming the end of a series, succession, or the like; closing; concluding
7.pertaining to or placed at a boundary, as a landmark.
8. occuring at or causing the end of life: a terminal disease.
9.(Informal) utterly beyond hope, rescue or saving...
10. a terminal part of a structure; end or extremity.
13. a station on the line of a public carrier,as in a city centre ... where passengers embark or disembark...
(Courtesy of
Take your pick!

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