Without the Sando, Life is Blando

September 1, 2012

5×8″ double-spread, H pencil guidelines overlaid with 4B. Not really possible to sit down, given how busy the narrowish footpath is; stopped after an hour mainly because it was so cold standing in the afternoon shadows. I am sticking all sorts of things into my sketchbook, especially bits of paper in and around the ‘scene’ of the sketch, e.g. discarded shopping lists scribbled on bits of paper. This new compulsion for picking something off the ground near where I sketch is of course ‘silly’, but hey I notice urban sketchers are full of personal ritual and ‘odd’ behaviours surrounding their sketching (adding/not adding text, not going over the gutter, not sketching on the back of another one, etc.).

Everyone in and around the Newtown area is surely aware that The Sando is up for sale; a rally last weekend marching and singing from Sydney Park along King Street South. Having passed it constantly for a very long time, I thought I “knew” the facade but today’s meditating on it for an hour was a revelation.

I made the mistake of assuming the building dated from the 1930s but like a lot of well-established 19th-century commercial buildings in Newtown (it was built in 1870), the Inter War Period saw a lot of facade refurbishment. Hotels such as The Zanzibar and The Bank near the railway station are testament to that wave of modernisation. You can glimpse the 1870s building via the two Victorian chimneys at either end of the building, quite close to the facade – see the upper right of my sketch.

The fading dark dusty pink paint reminded me of how The Trocadero looked all the through ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. The Trocadero at the other end of Newtown is now painted in a gleaming cream.

We can only hypothesise about the eventual fate of the building and the facade, let alone the cultural activity going on inside, it being one of the few (and declining) live music venues in Sydney.  

Whil I’ve ditched the F pencil from my kit, I’ve hung on to the H for guidelines since they are barely visible when scanned. In the interests of pursuing context first, I worked from lower right to left, starting with the footpath and door, doing the surrounding buildings before the Main One. I guess the particular problem with this site is the endless stop-start of cars on King Street south, largely obscuring parked cars and pedestrians. Next time, I might suggest the cars by a blur of gestural blind countours which would certainly convey what King Street South is like.

I would have liked to add colour; may go back again. The right side of the building was a brilliant sunlit pink, the rest in dark rust, with dark blue window shadows, dark blue awning. Very interesting black-and-green Art Deco tilework graces the length of the facade at ground level, recalling an earlier era of public house architecture. You’d be hard-pressed to find tilework on the outside and inside of pubs these days; they would have been easy to hose down after a busy night in the old days.

I pasted in the newspaper advert before sketching which is unusual; I thought I’d add an architectural detail at far left, e.g. the scroll patterns towards the roof line. Feel compelled to go back again and add to this double-spread sometime. There is an ‘art’ connection to this subject: free life-drawing classes on Monday nights upstairs. And a very obscure musical one: a string quartet  I play in sometimes gets out a piece called ‘Sermone Blando’.  


I’m indebted today to the endlessly fascinating posts at http://innewtown2010.wordpress.com/


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