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


Pyrmont paintings from the early 1980s to today

watercolour painting of Pyrmont from Observatory Hill by Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont from Observatory Hill" 1988 
gouache painting on paper 
31 x 76 cm
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Pyrmont as it was in the 1980s, seen from Observatory Hill. 
Pyrmont Power Station dominates the centre of this early painting. There is still shipping at the Pyrmont fingerwharves. The Maritime Museum had only just been built. 
In the foreground is a glimpse of the East Darling Harbour Wharves, or the "Hungry Mile", now called "Barangaroo" . Barangaroo will still have cruise ships using the temporary faciities until the new terminal is built at White Bay. 
See more Barangaroo paintings at my Home Page and my Hungry Mile/Barangaroo page in this blog.

A Brief History

I began to paint and draw the Pyrmont Peninsula in the early 1980s.
Pyrmont was once a neglected industrial suburb in a 19th century timewarp. It was discovered by the developers and given a makeover into a glitzy complex of casinos, hotels and apartments in the neverending quest for a harbour view. .
oil painting of Pyrmont Power Station by artist Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont Power Station and Pyrmont Fingerwharves 7 - 12" oil on board 46 x 61 cm
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This was exhibited in the 2006 National Trust Industrial Heritage Festival. A view of Pyrmont  from High street, Miller's Point.   

Pyrmont’s character throughout the late 19th to late 20th century was dominated by its industrial heritage. Workers’ terraces perched on the creamy sandstone escarpment above dark, decaying wharves and warehouses.
Inner city suburbs such as Pyrmont or Millers Point once belonged to the wharfies, riggers and dogmen of the Darling Island dockyard; the electrical and chemical engineers of the Pyrmont Power Staion; and the packers, processors and truckies of the CSR Refinery and Distillery.
They literally lived next door to their work and the community really was a village.
"Planned Shrinkage"
The decline of Pyrmont during the latter part of the 20th century began when the wool and wheat depots were moved from where they had been, next to the docks, to Yennora. This process accelerated with the virtual collapse of the Australian wool industry in 1991.
The Pyrmont Bridge was once the main road right through the centre of the suburb linking to the west via the Glebe Island Bridge and the Pyrmont Bridge Road directly to the Sydney CBD.
The building of the Western Distributor and the closure of the Pyrmont Bridge cut off Pyrmont from the rest of the city as though someone had wrapped a too-tight tourniquet around a limb. The new freeways did not follow the lines of the landscape, and to this day remain badly signposted and drivers often cause accidents by straddling lanes in confusion wondering whether they are taking an exit to the CBD, the Cross-City tunnel or back over the Harbour Bridge. Transport in and out of Pyrmont became a problem. 
Businesses closed; the limb atrophied; the suburb emptied as more services and shops left. This process is known as "planned shrinkage" or "benign neglect ".
The progressive removal of tariffs and the pressures of globalization helped kill off Australian manufacturing, and the focus of employment turned increasingly to tourism, entertainment and service industries.
The original population of Pyrmont was depleted, reaching its nadir of below 1500 for the entire peninsula by the end of the 1980s.
The Bicentennial in 1988 marked the beginning of the urban renewal of the area, as the working goods yard was replaced by the Darling Harbour retail and entertainment precinct to mark the celebrations.
In the mid 1990s the heavily industrialized northern shore once owned by the CSR began to be transformed into "Jacksons Landing" by LendLease, and the site of Pyrmont Power Station on the eastern side became the Star City Casino.

Pyrmont's Hidden Heritage

Ways Terrace / Point St Flats
oil painting of the CSR and Ways Terrace in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
"Ways Terrace" 1994 oil on board 41 x 122 cm
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Pyrmont’s sandstone has done so much to change the face of Sydney. It decorates the best loved historic Sydney buildings such as the Australian Museum, the Sydney Post Office, the Lands Department and the University of Sydney.
Sydney is the sandstone city.
Pyrmont's topography has been dramatically altered as Charles Saunders and the other quarrymasters cut vast swathes through its famous yellowblock.

 Pyrmont used to have some of Sydney's best hidden heritage. The chimneys of the CSR Refinery; the tanks of the CSR Distillery; the Federation warehouses of the Royal Edward Victualling Yard; the incinerator built by the famous architect, Walter Burley Griffin; the old timber wharves; Professor Leslie Wilkinson’s Ways Terrace where lines of washing (known by locals as “the flags of Pyrmont”) still flap.
Their qualities were frequently used to add street credibility to commercials and dramas. A couple of abandoned, half demolished sheds in the Goods Yard were briefly immortalized as the “Spanish café” in “Strictly Ballroom”. 

Some see these as eyesores, others as urban icons.

Darling Harbour Goods Line

oil painting of Pyrmont Power Station and Darling Island Goods Yard with Australian National Maritime Museum in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
 "Pyrmont Goods Yard" 
1988 oil painting on board 25 x 51 cm 
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Pyrmont Power Station stands to the right, in the centre is the Fielder Gillespie Flour Mills and the freight line. 
To the left is the Australian National Maritime Museum, newly built for the Bicentennial celebrations.

Pyrmont Power Station / "Star Casino"
The rooftop of the Pyrmont Power Station was an example of one of my more unusual studios.
It provided me with majestic panoramas of Harbour, Bridge and City on the east and starkly monumental industrial landscapes on the north and west.
When I first became its Artist in Residence in the early 1980s it was owned by Pacific Power.
By 1994 Pacific Power had been replaced by Sydney Electricity, who presided over the demolition of the site by Leighton's.
Before the Power Station could be replaced by the controversial Star City Casino, a new substation had to be built on a block previously occupied by old woolstores between Harris and Pyrmont streets.
oil painting of building of Star Casino and Darling Island Goods Yard  in Pyrmont from roof of Pyrmont Power Station by Jane Bennett
"The Construction of Star City Casino, 
painted from the roof of Pyrmont Power Station" 1995 
Oil painting on canvas 122 x 183cm
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View my Picasa Web Album : Pyrmont

Titan unloading the 'Flying Scotsman' at Pyrmont Goods Yard
plein air oil painting of the crane Titan unloading the 'Flying Scotsman' at Pyrmont Goods Yard 1988 by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
P7B Titan with the 'Flying Scotsman' from Wharf 13 Pyrmont 1988 oil on board 25 x 35cm

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plein air oil painting of the crane Titan unloading the 'Flying Scotsman' at Pyrmont Goods Yard 1988 by industrial heritage artist Jane Bennett
P7C Titan with the 'Flying Scotsman' from Wharf 13 Pyrmont' 1988 oil on board 35 x 25cm
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Three legends at Pyrmont together – what more can I say?

Titan is unloading the historic steam train, the ‘Flying Scotsman’ at Pyrmont, while the tall ship ‘Duyfken’ waits for restoration in the background.
The Flying Scotsman was one of the last engines to grace the rails of a Pyrmont wharf (Pier No 13) on 16th October 1988.
"Titan" was the immense floating crane that usually moored off the north-west slipway of Cockatoo Island.
Amongst its heroic exploits was its role in the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during 1931-2.
After Cockatoo Island was shut down, Titan was sold at the 1993 auction with many other irreplaceable heritage items, and sank on its way to Malaysia in mysterious and suspicious circumstances.

Walter Burley Griffin incinerator

Almost everything that I have painted has either been demolished: e.g. the Walter Burley Griffin incinerator, the Goods Yard; the CSR Refinery and Distillery has been replaced by the new suburb of Jackson's Landing; the Pyrmont Power station; the Fielder Gillespie Flour Mills and most of the old timber wharves. 
Walter Burley Griffin was a disciple of the legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His influence can be seen in the urban design of Canberra and the early modernist housing in the north shore suburb of Castlecrag.
Other incinerators built by Walter Burley Griffin have been retained and adapted for reuse as restaurants or even galleries, such as the Willoughby Incinerator, but the lost Pyrmont Incinerator was the most spectacular of the lot, in design and location. It had been cut into a niche of Distillery Hill, and was covered with terracotta tiles bearing patterns resembing Mayan glyphs. Its obelisk soared above the surrounding palm trees, reminding me of a Mayan temple beginning to lose its battle with the encroaching jungle.
But the real battle that it lost was not with the trees but with the far more dangerous predators of the urban jungle.
painting of the Walter Burley Griffin incinerator in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
"Demolition of the Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator" 1992 
charcoal drawing on paper 76 x 100 cm 
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This drawing was done on the day the Meriton excavators and bulldozers moved in on the iconic Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator. It was on Good Friday 1992. Developers often choose a public holiday to knock down something that they know will be controversial, so that it escapes media attention.
This drawing was exhibited in "Paradise, Purgatory and Hellhole - a history of Ultimo and Pyrmont" at the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, Sydney. It was on display from 2005-2006)
View painting of Pyrmont incinerator at 'Sydney Architecture'  

View painting of Pyrmont Incinerator at Powerhouse Museum

Fire in the Woolstore
"Fire at the Pyrmont Bond stores 1" 1992 
oil on canvas 20 x 25cm
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"Fire at the Pyrmont Bond stores 2" 1992 
oil on canvas 20 x 25cm
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This was once the AMLF Woolstore (Australian Mortgage Land and Finance Company No 1) , Pyrmont Street.
The woolstore was built in 1909 and occupied most of the land between Bullecourt Lane and Pyrmont Street.
This lovely old wool bond store close to the Powerhouse Museum on the boundary between Ultimo and Pyrmont burnt down mysteriously in 1992. Some cars belonging to staff from the neighbouring Powerhouse Museum narrowly escaped being crushed under the falling masonry.
I witnessed the fire which sadly destroyed most of this handsome 7 storey building, and painted it from the pedestrian walkway of the newly built Western Distributor expressway opposite.
Later the site was cleared, and apartments (Bullecourt Place, completed by the early 2000s) and the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre (completed in 2008) were built there.

Worker's cottage, 95 Pyrmont Street /Currency Exchange

oil painting of workers cottage in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
'Tumbledown workers cottage, 95 Pyrmont street' 1994 
oil on canvas 41 x 51 cm
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Now demolished, this quirky derelict worker's cottage once nestled between the quaint hardware store that once stood on the corner of Union street and Pyrmont street opposite the Pyrmont Power Station (now the Star City Casino). 
This hardware store is now the stylish Cafe XXII and for a while only the sandstone front stoop remained of this derelict cottage. Recently the last vestiges of this have been removed by the developer.
Now there is a currency exchange business operating behind a glass wall.
ink painting of Pyrmont cottage by artist Jane Bennett
'Tumbledown workers cottage, 95 Pyrmont street' 1994
 ink on paper 22 x 29 cm

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I miss the old hardware store.
While painting at the Pyrmont Power Station, I left my studio easel out in the rain. Not surprisingly, when I returned, I couldn't adjust the settings to move the canvas up or down as the wingnuts were corroded with rust, and the wretched thing wouldn't shift even after a full can of WD40. I tried a bit of brute force and the wing nuts snapped off. I knew that they weren't a standard size and I despaired of ever finding long enough bolts or the right size of wing nuts.
But old Bob Boyle, of the Pyrmont hardware store, came to the rescue with wing nuts made of solid brass, no less!
Inside the shop was a treasure trove of the most wonderful bits and pieces; many of the tools obviously over a century old and lovingly cared for.
There never seemed to be any customers and he flatly refused any payment for fixing my easel.
I always promised myself that one day I would spend the whole day in the shop, exploring and having a yarn with the owner.
And then one day the shop was closed.

Australian Thermite Company / Darling Island Bond and Free Store

oil painting of Pyrmont bond store by artist Jane Bennett
"Darling Island Bond and Free" 
2012 oil on canvas 61 x 51cm
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Originally this bond store was home of "Australian Thermite Company Pty Ltd" and must have been built either just before the First World War or during its first few months.
As far as I know, the cutting for the Pyrmont Goods Line which curves around the north of this building dates from about 1911-14 (?) so the Bond store would have been built around then.
Thermite is a mix of aluminium oxide and another metal oxide (usually iron) . It was used for welding in-place of thick steel sections such as locomotive axle-frames so that the repair can take place without removing the part from where it has been installed.
A thermite weld is spectacular.
Molten metal drops into the mould in a blinding flash. The still glowing edges are trimmed still glowing and then polished until you can't see the join with the steel rail on either side. It is a very traditional work process, which was first patented in the 1890s but it would still have been the last word in modern technology when 12 Pyrmont Street was first built.
Rail under stress can easily buckle. Thermite can be used for quickly cutting or welding steel such as rail tracks, without requiring complex or heavy equipment. However, thermite welding must be done carefully as defects are often present in such welded junctions. Also the rails must remain straight, without dipped joints, which can cause wear on high speed and heavy axle load lines.
oil painting of Pyrmont Bond store by artist Jane Bennett
'Darling Island Bond and Free, 12 Pyrmont street'
 1994  oil on canvas 41 x 31cm

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I'm not sure when the "Australian Thermite Company" building was transformed into the "Darling Island Bond and Free Store".
It must have been at least a couple of decades after its construction, as I have seen some unfortunately undated photos which must have been taken after 1916, but before 1948, as they show the empty yard to the east of the original 1904 Power Station building before the second power station was completed in 1951.
In the late 1980s, this building was acquired by the same couple who also own the Terminus Hotel at 61 Harris Street, number 27 Pyrmont Street, a large bond store in Pyrmont Street opposite the Star Casino and number 74 Harris Street, the old yellow ex-milkbar corner shop at the south eastern junction of John and Harris Street. All of these properties are in varying states of ruin and disrepair.
Today the faded letters "Darling Island Bond and Free" can still be just made out on the south side of the building, and the even more faded letters "Bond and Free" can be seen on the eastern side.
oil painting of Pyrmont Bond store by artist Jane Bennett
 'Darling Island Bond and Free, 12 Pyrmont street'
2013 oil on canvas 46 x 46cm
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The vacant concrete slab that stood for over a decade between the Bond Store and the steps from Jones Bay Road to Mill st, is now occupied by the Watermark Apartments, 2 Jones Bay Road.
Jones Bay Road is a shadow of its former self. It used to circle Pyrmont Point from the Bond Store opposite the Power Station, over and under the land bridge extending to Pier 13 on Darling Island, past "Checkpoint Charlie" opposite REVY, passing Pier 19,20,21 Wharves, rounding the empty space left by the demolition of Wharf 24/25 on the tip of the point and finally meeting the northern end of Harris Street at another checkpoint opposite the gatehouse of the CSR Refinery. Now the faux-Aboriginal word "Pirrama" (chosen presumably for its similarity to the name of the suburb) is used to describe all but the tiny remnant between the Bond Store and the Watermark.

Pyrmont Post Office / Bendigo Bank 
oil painting of Pyrmont from the roof of the Pyrmont Power Station by artist Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont Panorama-Union Square from the Roof of Pyrmont Power Station"  1993  oil on canvas 91 x 122cm

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One of my favourite studios was the roof of the Pyrmont Power Station. 
For a change I painted the hinterland  instead of the spectacular Sydney Harbour views. This less familiar vantage point shows the hidden side of Pyrmont - heritage worker’s cottages, Victorian terraces and bond stores. I knew how much this view would soon change. 
The bond stores  next to the vacant lot would soon make way for the substation between Pyrmont and Harris streets. The old “Duke of Edinburgh” hotel on the corner of Union and Harris Streets was renovated and is now called the “Harlequin Inn”. The handsome sandstone building with a red tiled roof was the Pyrmont Post Office- now the Pyrmont branch of the Bendigo Community Bank.

oil painting of Pyrmont Post Office by artist Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont Post Office- My studio at the back  " 1993
oil on canvas 38 x 76cm

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 This 1993 canvas shows my studio behind the old Pyrmont Post Office, which is now the Pyrmont branch of the Bendigo Community Bank. 
 Sydney Electricity were building the new substation on the site of some old bond stores between Pyrmont St and Harris St to replace the old Pyrmont Power Station. The site of the Pyrmont Power Station then became the Star City Casino.  

The Terminus Hotel
oil painting of Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
'The Terminus- pub with no beer' 
1998  oil painting on canvas 31 x 31 cm
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Once a notorious bikie/gangster HQ, this picturesque vine covered ruin on the corner of John and Harris streets has been abandoned since 1991 and boarded up since 1992.
I have included a couple of panoramas painted in the early 1990s to show the Pyrmont topography in context.
Now the Terminus stands out like a sore thumb in the middle of Jacksons Landing.
However, back in the late 1980s it was the pub opposite, the now very gentrified former "Royal Pacific", now the "Point" that was the local eyesore - the pub that you would walk very quickly past to avoid trouble!

oil painting of Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
 "Pyrmont panorama" 
1994  oil on canvas 46 x 91cm 

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These two panoramas show how Pyrmont has changed beyond recognition. 
The empty paddock in the foreground is now an apartment block, and the trees fringing the northern end of John street have been cut down. 
The half finished Anzac Bridge marches inexorably toward the C.S.R. Distillery's rusty tanks, which are now replaced by the luxury apartments of Jacksons Landing. The derelict Scott Street Squats, now home to upmarket restaurants and "Culture at Work" nestle between the Bond stores and the cutting. 
Bushes hide the goods line, now torn up at great expense and replaced with light rail for a dubious public transport outcome. 
Some landmarks remain : an old public school in John St. , and 2 of the then down at heel pubs. The "Royal Pacific" was expensively and extensively renovated and renamed the ‘Point’. 
However the Terminus, which was boarded up just before I began this canvas, remains derelict to this day.
oil painting of Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont panorama 
: From the "Terminus" to the "Scott st Squats" 
1994 oil on board 31 x 91cm 
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This painting shows the "Scott St Squats" in the right foreground, with the half finished Anzac Bridge in the top right background, behind the C.S.R. Distillery. At the far left, the derelict Terminus Hotel faces the Royal Pacific Hotel (later renovated, repainted in tasteful decorator shades and renamed firstly the "Pyrmont Point Hotel" and later just the "Point")
 Below this can be seen the cutting, which was formerly the freight line joining the Pyrmont Goods yard, and is now part of the light rail line.
oil painting of Anzac Bridge at night from Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont streetscape :  Anzac Bridge 
from the corner of John, Pyrmont and Point streets" 
1994 oil painting on canvas paper 100 x 75cm 

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The sunset over the half completed Anzac Bridge turns John street in Pyrmont to gold. To the left is the old public school in John St. restored as a community centre between the 2 pubs. The Royal Pacific on the right and the Terminus on the left can be glimpsed through the trees.
oil painting of Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
The 'Terminus' -Rip van Winkle's hotel 2010 oil on canvas 31x31cm. 
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oil painting of Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
'Terminus' ,Terminal,Terminate 2010 oil on canvas 31x31cm.
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Prior to becoming part of the Wakil's collection of derelict buildings sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, the Terminus had last changed hands in 1978, when the McElwaines, a family of boxers had attempted to run it as a sporting pub.
However the clientele soon changed from boxing fans to bikies and the pub moved steadily downmarket. It proudly featured topless barmaids, and at one stage in desperation was actually giving away free food, but its fortunes had already started to decline by the early 1980s along with the rest of the neighbourhood, when the local industries started to close and relocate.
The rumour mill has it that the Terminus, was finally closed for custom after the 3 sons of the owner/manager Bob McElwaine were jailed for their involvement with the Milperra bikie massacre on Father's Day 1984.

oil painting of Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
'Bar window - Terminus Hotel' 2012
 oil on board 13 x 18cm

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oil painting of Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
 'Terminus window - Terminus Hotel'
 2012 oil on board 9 x 18cm

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oil painting of Terminus Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
 'Terminus door- Terminus Hotel'
2012 oil on board 19 x 13cm

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The site was then acquired by the Wakils, an eccentric well heeled Eastern suburbs couple whose hobby seems to be buying chunks of down at heel real estate all over Sydney and then forgetting all about them for a couple of decades. In December 2014 they uncharacteristically sold some of their portfolio, including the iconic Griffiths Tea building in Surry Hills, as well as the warehouse at 100 Pyrmont Street, so the sale of the Terminus Hotel, the old "bakery" opposite and the former Thermite factory, the "Darling Island Bond and Free Store" at 12 Pyrmont Street will probably soon follow.
 Exactly why the Terminus had been derelict for over 20 years still remains a disquieting mystery.

The 'Royal Pacific Hotel' / The 'Pyrmont Point Hotel'
oil painting of Anzac Bridge and Terminus Hotel and Point Hotel in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
A Tale of two Hotels - 'The Terminus and the Point' 2010-2011 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm
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Since I painted this in 2010, the Point was under new management and had been repainted and renovated. 
It is now a subtle yellow-green hue instead of the odd puce colour in the painting above. 
oil painting of  'Terminus Hotel' and  'Pyrmont Point Hotel' Jackson's Landing Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
'The 'Terminus Hotel' versus the 'Pyrmont Point Hotel'   2012 oil on canvas 31 x 61cm
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What a difference a couple of years can make!
I've lost count of the colour changes of the Pyrmont Point Hotel - it's gone through the entire Dulux Weathershield chart in the past 3 decades. When I first saw it in 1981 as the 'Royal Pacific' it was a slightly shop soiled white with dark blue awnings and window trim.
For paintings of other derelict Pyrmont pubs see my post "Paintings of Pink Pubs"

R.E.V.Y. - The Royal Edward Victualling Yards at Darling Island
oil painting of Pyrmont Power Station and Darling Island in Pyrmont  by Jane Bennett
'Pyrmont Power Station and REVY from Jones Bay Wharf' 1991 oil on board 56 x 76cm 
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Painted from upper Jones Bay Wharf (now Doltone House)
Note the quirky architecture of the "Arrow Dive Shop" It might look like I can't do perspective, but it really was built that way. The building facing the wharf is much smaller than the other, so that the perspective looks twisted.
Behind is the Royal Edward Victualling Yard, (REVY), refurbished for the Naval Support Command in 1994. I was commissioned to paint 3 huge paintings :
1.REVY from the roof of Pyrmont Power Station
2.from Ways Terrace
3. from this viewpoint.
They could be seen from Jones Bay Road until 2005 when Channel 7 moved in. Now these paintings are on Spectacle Island, where unfortunately they can't be seen by the public.
The REVY has a tower built in the style of flamboyant neo-Gothic. It will come in handy if the residents ever have to pour boiling oil down on invading barbarians, which was the function of its 700 year older prototype, the Bargello in Florence. A similar tower in an apartment block near the London Olympic site, which bears an uncanny resemblance to it, may actually be used to house anti-aircraft missiles to deter terrorists during the forthcoming 2012 London Olympics, despite the strenuous objections of the inhabitants.

Pier 19/20/21 / Jones Bay Wharf

"Jones Bay Wharf, Pyrmont 1"
ink on paper 30.5 x 40.5cm

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This ink drawing shows Pier 21 on the left and the entrance to the wharf from the lower section of Jones Bay Road.
Pier 19/20/21 was still occasionally being used for cargo until the mid 1990s. By that time Jones Bay Wharf was also often used as a location for many TV and film dramas, including episodes of "Police Rescue" and the critically acclaimed police drama "Wildside".
There would be fake car chases almost every weekend and the local residents grew knowledgeable about lighting and camera angles.
The wharf's entrance doubled as the clinic and the cop shop, much to the annoyance of the "Vagabond" Cruises next door.

Jones Bay Wharf from Ways Terrace 1995 oil painting on board  20 x 40cm

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To the right is one of the Edwardian era wharf buildings on Darling Island.
I witnessed the last days of the goods line and Darling Island's use as a timber yard.
"Morning Jones Bay Wharf" 
1995 oil on canvas  41 x 51cm 

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This was completed very early on a crisp winter morning, shows a silvery morning mist veiling Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline are barely visible. 
In the foreground are boats from "Vagabond Cruises".

'Upper deck of Jones Bay Wharf' 
1995 oil on canvas 76 x 51cm
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An overhead bridge links the upper deck of Jones Bay Wharf to the end of Point Street. 
I painted this from the little park in front of Ways Terrace, the apartments perched on top of the escarpment opposite. 
The rusty roof  contrasts with the steely grey water.  Jones Bay Wharf was formerly known as Pier 19/20/21 and has been renovated extensively since, to be the site of restaurants e.g. "Flying Fish" and the elegant function centre "Doltone House"

Glebe Island Bridge/ ANZAC Bridge
Another amazing studio was the top of the western pylon of the Anzac Bridge during its construction. I was one of very few outsiders ever allowed on to the site to observe and record.
Sydney Electricity invited me to the top of the half finished bridge as the "Artist in Residence" of Pyrmont Power Station, while they were having discussions with Baulderstone Hornibrook and the RTA about lighting the bridge.

oil painting of building of Anzac Bridge by Jane Bennett
"From the top of the Anzac Bridge- Closing the gap" 
1995 oil painting on canvas 91 x 122 cm
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If you are wondering how I reached the summit,  a small green lift can be seen on the left leg of the pylon.It seemed to be made mostly of chickenwire and reaching the top seemed interminable, as it would crawl up with agonizing slowness then drop a heart-stopping half metre or so. One of these paintings was recently displayed in the Mitchell Library's prestigious ‘ONE hundred’ exhibition of 100 iconic objects from their permanent collection, to celebrate the centenary of their founding.

oil painting of building of Anzac Bridge by Jane Bennett
"Closing the Gap" 1995 oil on canvas 91x122cm 
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COLLECTION : The Mitchell Library, State Library of N.S.W.
This painting was exhibited for 2 years in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, Pyrmont, in the exhibition : "Paradise,Purgatory and Hellhole-a history of Ultimo and Pyrmont".
The entire Pyrmont Peninsula is beneath my feet! I could see the rooftops of many of my former studios: CSR Refinery & Distillery; Pyrmont Power station; Ways Terrace; the Royal Edward Victualling Yard; Pier 19/20/21.
The Mitchell Library, State Library of N.S.W, acquired this painting. It was exhibited in ‘ONE hundred’, 100 iconic objects from the collection of the Mitchell Library, to celebrate their centenary. It was number 95 of the 100 iconic objects, which included Captain Cook’s exquisite drawing of the Transit of Venus and the diary of Sir Joseph Banks.

ink drawing of building of Anzac Bridge with White Bay Power Station by Jane Bennett
"Looking West from top of ANZAC bridge" 1994 
mixed media on paper 141 x 134cm
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The CSR Refinery / Jackson's Landing
"Pyrmont and Jackson's Landing from the Hungry Mile (Barangaroo)" 2006 oil on canvas 25 x 51cm                    


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oil painting of Jackson's Landing Pyrmont from Glebe Island Wharf by artist Jane Bennett
"Jackson's Landing from Glebe Island Wharf" 2008 
oil on canvas 25 x 51cm 
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oil painting of Jackson's Landing Pyrmont from White Bay Wharf by artist Jane Bennett
"Jackson's Landing from White Bay Wharf" 2012 
oil on canvas 31 x 61cm

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Glebe Island Wharf and White Bay Wharf offer wonderful opportunities to paint panoramic views of Jackson's Landing. You can see how the mixture of restored heritage architecture and modern apartments relate to each other.

Coal Silo, Crane and Jetty / Regatta Wharf

oil painting of CSR before Jacksons Landing by Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont CSR Refinery- Waterpolice site from the CSR " 1991
oil on canvas 61 x 122cm

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The coal silos and strawberry-pink crane that used to be next to the jetty have now been replaced by 'Regatta Wharf'.
oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
"The CSR Refinery from  the chimney of the boilerhouse"
1994 acrylic painting on paper 76 x 56 cm

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On the right is a cherry-coloured coal crane; next to it is the coal transporter. 
On the left is the ‘Panhouse’, where brown sugar was refined into white. In the distance on the right is a ‘Barber Blue Sea’ ship (Later to become Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines) unloading at White Bay.
The green coal loaders in the background are part of the Glebe Island terminal, awaiting redevelopment. 
The front brick skin of the Boilerhouse was retained as the cladding for the Jackson’s Landing apartment christened, the ‘Elizabeth’, but little remains of the other buildings.

The Water Police Site / Pirrama Park

oil painting of Water Police site from the CSR by Jane Bennett
"Pyrmont - CSR Refinery view of Water Police site" 
1991  oil on canvas 75 x 100cm 

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This view of the Water Police Site was painted at the C.S.R. Refinery,on the top floor of the No. 4 Brick Building or ‘Panhouse’ where brown sugar was refined into white. 
It has now been transformed into a park. 
Until 1991 a derelict Fingerwharf remained on the northern end and remnants of the public baths could still be seen on the knuckle of the wharf. In this painting you can see the ferry "Baragoola" next to the derelict wharf.
On the southern end was the A.E.W.L., where I also had a studio space, courtesy of City-West Development Corporation. 
White Bay, opposite the north end of Pyrmont is the last remaining vestige of Sydney's working harbour.

The Boilerhouse ~ The 'Elizabeth'

oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
"The Boilerhouse C.S.R. Refinery from the jetty "
1991 oil on canvas 91 x 91cm


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This was the high pressure boilerhouse of the CSR Refinery painted from the jetty. Behind the gatehouse to the left you can see the chimneys of another powerhouse - the Pyrmont Power Station.
The Jetty has been demolished, and the Gatehouse has been transformed into the stylish café “Savichees” and the elegant restaurant “The Sugar Room”. 
The imposing façade of the C.S.R. Boilerhouse has been incorporated into one of the new Jackson’s landing apartments, the ‘Elizabeth'.

The Cooperage

oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
Industrial Cathedral 1995
oil on canvas 46 x 36cm

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 This painting  focuses on the mysterious patterns of shadow made by the fall of light.
 The cavernous space and rows of columns reminded me of the interiors of cathedrals and ruined abbeys. The wall at the back was the famous butter-yellow Pyrmont sandstone, which has been quarried to decorate the best loved historic Sydney buildings such as the Australian Museum, the Sydney Post Office, the University of Sydney. 
At sunset the sandstone rockface caught the last rays of light and the derelict warehouse was transformed.
This is an oil painting of the same site as the large charcoal drawing which is the emblem of this blog.
The original Cooperage was built in 1901 as a complex of 3 buildings , of which one has  remained. It was rebuilt in 2006 and some of the original barrelmaking equipment and machinery has been retained.

CSR Warehouse / The 'Rumstore'

oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
"The 'Rum Store' CSR Refinery" 1991
oil on canvas 41 x 51cm


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This painting shows the view looking up the slope from the sugar crane and jetty of the wharf up to the Rum Store, on the left hand side.
The brick building to the left, with the trellis of vines was the manager's office.

oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
"The 'Rum Store' CSR Refinery" 1991
oil on canvas 46 x 61cm

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Looking down the slope to the sugar crane and jetty of the wharf. By the time of this painting the last sugar ship had sailed.
The building to the left is the 'Tablet House'. The cute little brick building in the centre, with the trellis of vines is the manager's office.
The entire courtyard was covered in ivy from ground to roof, making it a cool retreat in the summer.
There was a turning circle in the middle of the courtyard for the benefit of the horse drays which used to transport the sugar bags. Horses pulling carts can't move in reverse!
This was one of the earliest buildings on the site, and could date from as far back as 1879. It was certainly operational by 1886.
When it was refurbished to be part of the Jackson's Landing development. the annexe on the southern side and the walkway to the boilerhouse on the eastern side were removed in the interests of symmetry.
The name 'Rumstore' is a bit of real estate agent's poetic license. The only rum in the so-called 'Rumstore' would have been inside some of the workers after a long lunch!
The CSR Distillery

oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
'CSR Distillery, Pyrmont' 1994 
oil painting on board 41 x 122cm  
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The tanks of the CSR Distillery in closeup with the striding legs of the half finished Anzac Bridge in the background.
When visiting the CSR I had to promise not to bring any object made of or with glass just in case I broke it and the fragments got mixed in with the sugar!

Mc Cafferys Stables

oil painting of the CSR by Jane Bennett
'McCaffery's stables, former part of the CSR Distillery, Pyrmont' 
1995 oil painting on canvas 31 x 61 cm
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Once the horses that drew the sugar drays were stabled here; later the Veronese green sugar trucks, parked in its grounds. Some sugar trucks can be  glimpsed below the tanks at the bottom of the previous painting 'CSR Distillery from the car park'.

Now the CSR site has been gentrified beyond recognition as part of the Jackson's Landing precinct.

oil painting of Union Square Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
"Union Square Terraces 4 - a little piece of Paris in Pyrmont" 
2009 oil on canvas 51 x 76cm
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 This canvas was painted while these charming Victorian terraces were under threat of demolition for a Metro entrance. The whole scheme was cancelled in 2010. Note the protest banner hung between the central terraces.
oil painting of Union Square Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
"Union Square Terraces and Paternoster Row" 
2011 oil on canvas  31 x 103cm
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Union Square, in contrast to many other parts of Pyrmont, had kept much of its original character. The NSW Government's proposal for a Metro entrance in the charming historical precinct of Union Square threatened to obliterate one of the last remaining vestiges of Pyrmont's heritage. 
oil painting of Union Square Pyrmont by artist Jane Bennett
"Angel of Union Square"  
2010 oil on wood 23 x 12cm
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In 2009 I returned to paint in Pyrmont, partly as a protest and partly to look back with nostalgia. 
Now that the Metro has been abandoned, my painting is a symbol of victory over mindless bureaucracy.

Change is the only constant

Pyrmont has changed beyond all recognition.
The pubs have been gentrified, the woolstores have been converted into apartments, the handsome Federation warehouses of the Royal Edward Victualling Yard have become a media village and the few remaining Victorian terraces have been surrounded and obscured by multistorey apartment blocks. 
As the momentum of development rapidly gathered, I continued to record this area with an increasing sense of purpose and urgency. My paintings changed from isolated images into an extensive narrative sequence of the abandonment, decay, destruction and reconstruction of an inner-city suburb – a metaphor for deeper changes within Australia.
      by Pamela Payne The Sydney Morning Herald June 17 1992

This is an extraordinarily comprehensive history of the northern end of the Pyrmont peninsula created by Red Ant Media for the residents of Jackson's Landing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your work, so realistic. Very cool that you paint en plein air!
Warm regards from Canada