Sydney sketching : sketching Sydney – postcode 2000

June 23, 2011

23 June 2011. Derwent graphite pencil, Staedtler fineliner pen, W&N watercolour.

Sydney Hospital, Nightingale Wing.

Sydney Hospital isn’t just the 1894 building fronting Macquarie Street; in back, some facing The Domain are older, including the oldest of them, the Nightingale Wing. Built in 1868-1869, it’s the oldest building now standing on the present site of Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital and is heritage-protected by the National Trust. Designed by Thomas Rowe and approved by Florence Nightingale herself, it’s home to the oldest nursing school in Australia. It was opened soon after the arrival of Miss Lucy Osburn who was sent by Ms Nightingale with a team of five nurses from England to reform nursing practice at what was then a rundown and unhygienic Sydney Infirmary. Not long after setting about her work, Ms Osburn and her team had to deal with the attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh at Clontarf. In 1901, additions were made by adding a floor and a wing to the east, and in 1918 it was again extended due to space limitations. 

According to the Hospital website, the four storeyed structure with its distinctive polychrome brick facade is in the Gothic Revival style. The facade has amazing brown-and-white bricks, contrasting with traditional Sydney sandstone. It reminds me of the green and white patterned stone used in what I think is the Lombardan style; I equate it somehow with Pisa as well. The highlight is the zigzag of white bricks on the corners which peters out after the first two storeys.

I had twenty minutes to spare before a private viewing of linocuts at the nearby Art Gallery of NSW and returned for another twenty minutes to work up the areas towards the roof and out to the right, including the people as a compositional “lead-in”. The most interesting area is the porch with its brick Moorish arches, but the pencil moved out from there in every direction. Desolate at 9.30am this public courtyard space was bustling with hospital staff at lunchtime having a staff barbecue right in front of the green door I’d drawn earlier. I was lucky to score exactly the same seat as before and mercifully the staff were too busy grabbing something to eat to take any notice of me.

I’ve simplified the colouring of the dark brown brickwork and not attempted at all the intricate warm areas and shading on the sandstone staircase at left. There is an elaborate extended balcony to the right which is not included here – I thought it would detract from the focus at left. I will return at another time to sketch from a different angle because the overall effect of this facade is just so incredibly hectic. I thought rather than fill the entire page, I should quit while I was ahead!

Derwent graphite pencil, Staedtler fineliner pen and W&N watercolour.

Martin Place Railway Station.

There’s been a huge amount of building work at this station recently as lifts down to the platforms are retrofitted. I may try and capture them at a later date. In the meantime I decided to put my 24 minutes waiting time today to good use. I didn’t try to conceal the fact that I was sketching, not that there were many people around to offend.  At peak hour of course even scoring a seat would be unusual, let alone sketching.

There are similarities with the hospital sketch above: spots of colour in a series of dramatic verticals and horizontals, though of course the brick doesn’t compare with the white marble-like stone of this waiting area. As with the hospital sketch, you don’t realise how much detail is in the vista till you start recording it!

References

 http://www.sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au/sydhosp/historicalbuildings.asp

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