Sydney sketching – Marrickville Fire Station

July 4, 2012

B pencil, 5×8″ double spread, Daler-Rowney 150g sketchbook.

The NSW Heritage Council description for this 1914 building mentions its non-symmetricality.  Initial foundation lines revealed play between halves and thirds in terms of geometry across the facade, but that has yet to show, especially in terms of window treatment. I got the height measurement right, but I suspect not the horizontals! I spent more time on foundation lines today and I am learning to ignore footpaths and edges where the building meets the ground – in old buildings, there will be variation created over time, one has to “imagine” the building’s foundations. That said, working in such a small scale (10×16″) means the slightest error in perspective – the mere skerrick of a pencil line – can cause problems.

Rather than get caught up in the interesting architecture of the top pediment, bay window and projecting bay over the semi-circular building, I concentrated on the engine bay doors.

Standing across the road – no seating possible – was all the more difficult because the building is so high. Perhaps even more interesting than this building is its link to the Town Hall next door and a just-finished 21st-century high-rise next to that: the contrast in architecture and levels is worth pursuing. Next time I go back, I’ll stand next to these facades to check their actual alignment.

Abandoned after a half-hour or so due to rain, inevitable in the years La Nina is hanging around. A dud of a session, especially since this facade faces south and thus gets no shadows or tonal interest, but I had fun observing the sandstone keystones and the contrasting lines of blue-black brick. I’ve also come to an important understanding relating to the history of Marrickville high-street: commercial multi-storeyed buildings near Marrickville and Illawarra Roads were built in the 1880s, so it’s not surprising that this group of civic buildings (Hospital, Fire Station, Town Hall) built in the first twenty years of last century are all on the “edge” of the high-street development and remain so a century later.


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