15 September 2012

Elena Parashko looks through the porthole of 'John Oxley'

            The coastal steam ship, John Oxley (1927), is on the floating Heritage Dock 
undergoing major restoration. Donning a hard hat, climbing up the scaffolding to board 
this vessel and walking through the deteriorating compartments of the John Oxley 
gave me an insight into how magnificent this steamer once was and will eventually be again. Small details instantly caught my eye and imagination. In my artistic practice, much of 
my work is aimed at highlighting the beauty all around us that often goes unnoticed 
in the busyness of our lives. I found much fuel for inspiration here.

During this pause in construction, painting there and then on board John Oxley 
was not an option, so I relied on taking quick photographs to record
 the images that made a visual and emotional impression on me. 
I worked from these reference photos and my personal experience back home in the studio.

 An open porthole with cracked glass transported me to a different time and place. 
I empathised with all sailors who travel far from home and miss their loved ones 
and imagined them being on the open sea and thinking of 
their wives and children who were waiting for their return. 
That inspired me to paint “Thinking of You”. Looking through the porthole, 
I painted a view of the open ocean instead of the current reality of the shipyard setting.

Thinking of You

10 September 2012

Jane Bennett paints the 'Lady Hopetoun'

As the 'Lady Hopetoun' was the first vessel that was acquired by the Sydney Heritage Fleet, it seemed appropriate to kick off my residency in earnest with her portrait.

I looked for a quiet spot that was sheltered from the sun and wind to start my painting, 
and found a little nook sheltered by a forest of giant rusty pipes in the Ability Barges' yard 
next to the Heritage Dock. I explained what I was attempting to do and they were very happy 
to let me stay there to paint as it was out of their way. 
In the Sydney Heritage Fleet yard itself it can be difficult to get a complete view of some 
of the vessels, so I was grateful for this vantage point which gave me a great view.

I started the canvas, which is 36 x 46cm, about 2pm and had to leave off at about 5pm when the light faded. It is about half-finished - plein air painting can leave you with the problem of having several half-finished works waiting for the right weather conditions and time of day to complete. 

I'll need to return to put the finishing touches to this work - same time, same kind of sunny day!

At the Heritage Dock - first thoughts, by Marijke.

Artists on Induction tour of the Dockyard
Marijke Greenway  writes of her impressions of visiting the Heritage Dock, and gives the story of how some paintings were created  ....

All the artists-in-residence met at the Rozelle site for the induction by Tim, so, wearing our hard hats and cameras we followed Tim around the site for the grand tour.

First day impressions

After the tour, I set up to paint as I had brought all my painting gear. I tried to capture what had been my first impression of the Rozelle site, and that was the enormous bulk of the John Oxley. Seeing it side on, but just the bow of the ship, it was almost an abstract shape of white, black and red, divided into sections by rivet heads. So that was what I painted the first day, but I did not finish it.

I visited the site each Thursday and slowly got used to the enormity of the John Oxley; this week I painted an almost glamorous picture of her beautiful dry-dock shape - enhanced by sunlight and shadow and made more interesting with all the cranes and scaffolding around her and even a bit of city skyline and the Anzac Bridge. Getting the perspective right on this painting was the hardest bit, I kept measuring against the Anzac Bridge and eventually got it right. Then there was the trick of laying in the shadows very early as the whole picture can change dramatically in half an hour.  

John Oxley
I was thinking that each one of the three boats I painted had a different problem -  the iwas  straight in front of me, so practically no perspective, just face to face. The Lady Hopetoun was below my field of vision, so the most  difficult to get a decent perspective as, due to the wall of steel behind me,  I could not stand back far enough. Then the John Oxley towered so high above me that I had to crane my neck and put my head into abstract mode to fit her on to the canvas.  But I managed it and feel satisfied that I painted what was brewing in my mind over the past few weeks.

Suzanne sketching 'Endeavour' at the North Wharf of the Australian National Maritime Museum

Captain James Cook sailed the Endeavour , which was built in 1768-71.
The Replica ship built in 1994 has "30 kilometres of ropes and 750 wooden blocks or pulleys; 
the masts and spars carry 28 sails that spread approximately 10,000ft (930 sq m) of canvas".
Members of the ASMA AIR Programme spent an enjoyable day sketching and painting this vessel - 
maybe not every detail of the rigging was included by me - more sketching needed!