Thursday, August 12, 2010


We congratulate Tom Carment on yet again being amongst the prizewinners of the Mosman Art Prize.

This is what Kon Gouriotis, Director, Visual Arts, Australia Council for the Arts, said about the painting
'Container Wharf, Port Botany':

"The Allan Gamble Memorial Prize is awarded annually to a painting focussing on the built environment. This year, it goes to Tom Carment for his work Container Wharf, Port Botany. This work is imbued with an acute sense of observation. The artist’s keen examination of the port, expressed by its slight movements, is a process I wanted to celebrate by selecting Carment’s work. The three different moments (recorded in presence at the site and at a distance) have a deep consideration of a particular focal point, and the work is beautifully crafted."

The painting is part of the latest of Tom's plein air series, which we featured in this year's Melbourne Art Fair.

This is what Tom has to say about his journies to Port Botany:

"The container terminal at Botany Bay feels like the busiest place in Sydney, the working heart of the city and I have been painting there since late last year. Queues of waiting semi-trailers peel out its gates. It’s noisy too: engine sounds, warning beeps and sirens, the nearby planes taking off and landing.
Being a plein air painter I look for the best places to sit and paint which aren’t in anyone’s way. I began working from the edges of the Eastern Suburbs Cemetery from where I could see all the cranes against the light. Then, after scouting out possible sites on my bicycle (I cycle to Botany Bay every Saturday morning), I started painting the wharf from the north, sitting in the bushes at the edge of busy Foreshore Drive. From here I could see the brightly coloured structures in full light, almost like science-fiction fighting machines, striding the bay. I worked on horizontal panels, about thirty of which I’d cut and primed from old timber collected at the Bower in Marrickville. In the studio I arranged them into groups that sat well together. Foreshore Drive is a ‘no stopping’ zone so I’d leave my car in Joseph Banks Park and lug my gear half a mile round the edge of the golf course to get there, past what looked like aboriginal middens under the windblown trees. The Port is a ‘still life’ in flux, the elements remain the same but move about; not only do the skies and tides change, but also the giant red and yellow cranes, which shunt up and down their tracks into different positions each day and rearrange the stacked walls of containers. The deckhouses and smokestacks of visiting ships move on every couple of days. This changing of the ‘still life’ meant I had to complete each picture in one sitting of about two hours. Added to this sense of urgency was the fact that the area where I sat had been newly landscaped with woodchips and fresh plantings, interlaced with a black-piped watering system and week by week the greenery grew higher, eventually blocking the view. The industrial strength sprinklers would go off at random times, soaking me, so I carried a plastic bag and gaffer tape and would rush to smother them when they went off, allowing me to continue my work. I found a lot of stray golf balls on the walks in and out of my painting place and one day presented them to a somewhat shocked golfer preparing to tee off.
One night I heard on the news that a maritime worker had been killed at Port Botany, crushed by a container. I’d been sitting there that day worrying about getting my colours in the right place, unaware of the tragic event that was taking place across the water."