The work of Jane Bennett Artist

Today is the Pyrmont Festival of Wine at Pirrama Park, formerly known as Pyrmont Park. Pirrama is the Gadigal name for the area.

There were some excellent examples of work from local artists and craftspeople, two sound stages featuring music, and a choir, as well as a swathe of stalls selling various wines. What really caught my attention was the work of the artist Jane Bennett, an industrial heritage artist.

Jane’s work

Jane has meticulously documented the inner urban streets of Pyrmont and Ultimo and beyond over many years. Looking at one of her paintings I realised that she had painted a scene that I’d often passed. One day walking around Blackwattel Bay, I observed an artist painting the scene. I took this photo of the artist. Suddenly it all came together, it was Jane in my photo.

Jane at work.

Living in the area

When I first came to live in Burton Street, Glebe, back in 1967, my house was a few hundred metres from the place where Jane was working. At that time the area was occupied by timber milling and coal loading. It was a dusty place. After 19 years growing up in Coogee it was a shock. Now the area is so much cleaner. The colours are brighter without the coal dust, and fly ash emissions from Pyrmont Power Station. No longer does the smell of Caneite production and the occasion wafts of spirits from the distillery above the Colonial Sugar Refinery In Pyrmont meet one’s nose.

A three shot panorama across Blackwattle Bay.

A Little About Pyrmont

Pyrmont is an area that I’ve known since my early childhood not in the meticulous detailed industrial history Jane presents, but first therough the eyes of a child. As a child I was overwhelmed by the activity of the Jones St. wharves when I went to visit my father, newly arrived from one of his voyages through the Asia Pacific. Later, given his experience with boilers and pressure vessels, as a marine engineer, I think he worked briefly at Pyrmont Power Station. After a long period working with the old Department of Labour and Industry, on the fringe of The Rocks, he took up teaching courses on boilers and pressure vessels at the Ultimo TAFE.

As a university student I had friends renting a tumble-down terrace on Wattle St., bought cheap meat from the wholesalers at the end of Harris Street, and of course Paddy’s Market and Darling Harbour have has long been a focus of my attention. I’ve been wandering through the area for years. I often sat in Fisher library at the University of Sydney admiring the temple form of the of the now long gone Walter and Marion Burley Griffin designed industrial incinerator

Pyrmont Incinerator, Sydney. Photograph from Powerhouse Museum collection.

This building at the Miller Street end of Saunders and extending to Banks Street, appears to be a remnant of the incinerator complex.

At the moment I’m staying across the road from the old incinerator site.

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