Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cut off

  1. To remove via cutting.
  2. To isolate or remove from contact
  3. To end abruptly.
  4. A designated limit beyond which something cannot function or must be terminated
  5.  Break a small piece off from

At 4pm last Friday afternoon, I arrived back at Moore's Wharf after a day spent putting the finishing touches on my enormous painting of White Bay Power Station.
I saw a crane through the trees of Clyne Reserve, the pocket hankerchief size park next to the Sydney Harbour Control Tower.
The men in the workbox were from Telstra. They were removing Telstra's communications equipment from the strange little "belt" around the waistline of the Tower.
There is something symbolic about the phones being cut off in a building devoted to communications. 
"Sydney Harbour Control Tower and Clyne reserve" 2007 oil painting on canvas 46 x 36 cm SOLD
This is the Tower in earlier days when East Darling Harbour Wharves were still operational.
I have been told that everything has to be stripped out of there by the end of September.

The Barangaroo Development Corporation want to buy it, if they haven't already done so.
The prospect of its demolition inches ever closer.
Won't be long now.
I wonder if it will last until the opening of my exhibition?
I'll be showing other Barangaroo paintings from the 11th -30th October 2011 in my solo exhibition "May close without warning" at the Frances Keevil Gallery,Bay Village, 28-34 Cross St, Double Bay 2028.

Enquiries : info@franceskeevilart.com.au
"Sydney Harbour Control Tower is looking at a fall"
Henry Budd: The Daily Telegraph August 05, 2011
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Friday, August 26, 2011

View from the ivory tower

Millers Point from top of Harbour Tower ink acrylic gouache on paper 120 x 131cm
HIGHLY COMMENDED : 2011 Royal Easter Show

A moody charcoal and ink drawing of a bird's eye view of Miller's Point in the early morning from the Harbour Control Tower. This panorama is a study for an even larger oil painting on canvas, which could be my farewell to the Tower. Every time I go up there may be my last, so I treasure every moment.
If I arrive early enough at Moore's Wharf, I've been allowed to tag along when people from Sydney Ports Corporation have to pack up and remove various bits of flotsam and jetsam from the Tower. On my last visit, the first aid and cardiac equipment was removed, so that gives everyone extra incentive to watch their cholestrol and not to hoe into the chocolate cornettos kept temptingly in the fridge at Moore's Wharf.
Now the entrance is from the bottom level via the Barangaroo gatehouse on Hickson Road, as the entrance from the Merriman Street level has been shut and locked. Merriman Street has a charming cluster of heritage terraces perched on top of the sandstone escarpment and is bordered by the now empty Palisade Hotel at one end and Clyne Reserve at the other.
At least 2 people have to be present on a Harbour Tower visit, just in case the lift packs up, although exactly what the second person could do if anything happened except sympathize is anyone's guess. It's a frightening thought, as mobile phone reception is not too good in there at the best of times.
The lifts always seemed to be out of order whenever I had an especially large canvas. 4 separate trips up the interminable flights of stairs to the amenities floor (canvases, table and chair, easel, trolley luggage with my painting medium and brushes and lunch) then 2 extra flights to the top floor to sign the register book, then back down to the amenities block to get some painting done. And then at the end of the day, the journey in reverse - but with an extra trip, as a large wet painting has to be kept away from anything else.
The tower sways in the wind, sometimes almost imperceptively, and sometimes with a rolling motion that can induce seasickness. It can be distracting when trying to paint fine details.
The perspective is made more complex by the landbridges over the twisting streets winding their way from the angled rows of Walsh Bay Wharves up the hills. The entire suburb of Millers Point lies at my feet.
There was such an overwhelming mass of tiny details that I needed to tackle this subject in tone and line before risking getting bogged down in an oil painting. I wanted to understand the rhythm of the landscape. Previously I had painted many sections of this scene, but this was an ambitious attempt to unify the views from 4 windows in 3 separate rooms into a single cohesive work.
Unfortunately this drawing's frame was badly scratched at the Royal Easter Show, so I'm getting my gallery to re-frame it. It's expensive to frame large works on paper and I try to avoid it when possible, but I think that this will be one of the key works in my solo exhibition. The title of the exhibition is  "May close without Warning" and will be held from the 13th - 30th October 2011 at the Frances Keevil Gallery, Bay Village, 28- 34 Cross Street, Double Bay 2028. 
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bacon and eggs in Miller's Point Part 2

I finished my painting of the Harbour Control Tower by lunchtime. At last I was able to move my cramped, chilly limbs and choose a position for the afternoon painting where I could bask in the feeble winter sunlight.
The brickwork of the Argyle Cafe actually is quite dark, but it glows burnt orange as it was caught in the afternoon sun. The warmth contrasts beautifully with the deep green awnings and timberwork of the windows.

Painting the 'Argyle Cafe, late afternoon Millers Point'2011 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Bacon and Eggs in Miller's Point

After hearing disturbing rumours about the future of the Harbour Control Tower, I arrived at the crack of dawn  to check that my easels on the top floor and the Tower itself were still standing.
By 8am I was tempted by the delicious aroma of a breakfast fryup of bacon and eggs wafting from the Argyle Cafe on the corner of Argyle and High Streets.
A good old fashioned breakfast in a good old fashioned suburb.
After breakfast I decided to look for a spot to paint and wandered only a couple of metres away from the doorstep.
The giant mushroom head of the Harbour Control Tower loomed over Munn's Reserve, the odd little park I had so often noticed without bothering to find out its name. It perches on top of the land bridge above Hickson's Road and consists of a couple of trees, a patch of lawn, a seat or two in the middle of heritage cobblestones and railings.
On the western edge of Munn's Reserve, is the Palisade Hotel, which has recently been renovated with a charmless canopy that sits like a badly fitting cap over its crenallated roof. Now it lies dormant, its future as uncertain as the rest of the suburb.
Yet another "pub with no beer". I have just completed a painting of the "Terminus Hotel", a derelict hotel in Pyrmont, another former working class suburb which has been gentrified beyond belief.
If the Tower is demolished for access to the Barangaroo Headland Park, it would be difficult to predict the effect on the surrounding streets.It wouldn't make economic sense to start trading amidst all the confusion and noise of demolition and construction.
I thought that I should take the opportunity to paint the area in what might be some of its final moments of peace and quiet.

Painting 'Munn's reserve Millers Point'2011 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm

Some of the patrons of the Argyle are watching me paint while they polish off their breakfast. I can hear fragments of muttering "Wonder when she'll stick the trees in...not bad...is she going to put the old Palisade in? And then a few familiar voices - a couple of people who bought some of my paintings at the "Trains, Cranes and Ships" exhibition on Observatory Hill, which is just a couple of hundred metres up the road. This show was in December 2007, just after the wharfies left the East Darling Harbour Wharves for Port Kembla and Port Botany, not really that long ago, but already it seems like a bygone era.
More familiar faces - some of the Sydney Ports  workers from Moores Wharf just down the hill have also been raising their cholesterol with a bacon and egg breakfast. Apparently they had also bought some of my paintings from the same show.
I must really take up the kind invitation to paint Moore's Wharf as soon as possible.
If the Harbour Tower goes, there could be increased pressure to vacate Moore's Wharf. After all, it has been moved once already, so the precedent has been set.
Starting the Painting 'Munn's reserve Millers Point'2011 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm

A calm winter morning. Sunny, but clear, crisp and cold. I think that you can tell this with the colour palette of this canvas. Unfortunately I have chosen a shaded spot which makes it even colder. I rush to finish and choose another position for the afternoon painting, but the chill is making my fingers slow and clumsy.

Painting 'Munn's reserve Millers Point'2011 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
I use the cold as an excuse to drink some more of the Argyle's delicious coffee. It warms up my fingers and I finally get my act together and finish my canvas.
'Munn's reserve Millers Point' 2011 oil on canvas 31 x 31cm
Enquiries about similar paintings

I've just sold this little painting at my exhibition "May close without warning" in the Frances Keevil Gallery.
To the far left is a sliver of the Palisade Hotel, but in this work I wanted to dwell on the unexpected aspects of Miller's Point rather than the more obviously famous landmarks.Behind the gnarled trees and sandstone pavers, the workers terraces of Merriman Street are bathed in the cool winter morning light.
At the moment Miller's Point still possesses the raffish charm that its more famous and uglier sister suburb, The Rocks, has now totally lost. It is still quiet and quaint, and the people in the streets are mostly residents and local workers rather than tourists. What a difference a couple of hundred metres can make.
But for how long?
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