Sydney sketching : sketching Sydney, postcode 2015 – Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh

June 24, 2011

Derwent graphite pencil on location; Staedtler Finerliner pen and W&N watercolours added later at home.

12 noon, 24 June 2011. Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh.

While this looks like a railway siding, it is in fact a single luxury train carriage set up as an exhibit inside the repurposed Eveleigh railway precinct near Redfern, one of the largest extant rail manufacture premises of its type in the world. My grandfather, who spent most of his working life here making boilers for the locomotives, would be surprised to know of his grandson sitting for university exams inside the vast, now repurposed, locomotive factories. Today was my last exam for the semester; I return for more in November, so I “celebrated” by bringing along the sketchbook. It was also today the venue for a health practitioners’ conference, complete with real apples inside potted plants in and around the venue, presumably offered as a healthy snack to participants at morning and afternoon tea instead of the usual sugary things.

Appreciative of how much I can record in my sketches while actually sitting down in lieu of standing (!), I “tried” one of the public seating areas for decent vistas. Putting the train carriage right in the centre of the page was compositionally foolhardy but the locomotive factories are so large and extensive, they defy being able to be drawn, especially up close. The developers of the site seem to feel this too because the various public spaces are dotted with large pieces of trains as visual focal points, bringing the large architectural expanses down to a human scale. Like all good Victorian architecture, it was all about power and dominance. I can’t help noticing how many holes have been punched in the factory ceilings to let in natural light; the work areas in the past must have been incredibly dark and the furnaces and smithing very other-worldly.

I am now on the lookout for sketchers of large factory premises. My copy of Ptolemy Dean’s British architectural drawings is in the post at the moment, winging it ways to me – perhaps he included some Victorian factory facades. I am training myself to memorise colours and where shadows fall. It was a shame to add pen and watercolour to what was otherwise a spare and very subdued line drawing, but the requisite sacrifices have to be made in order for the image to be scanned and uploaded!

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