It was the 19th Sydney Biennale, so I caught the commuter ferry to Cockatoo Island. The island boasted installations , art exhibitions, and urban camping sites as part of its participation in the event.
The island is a UNESCO world – heritage – listed site in the middle of Sydney Harbour. It is also home to an abandoned shipyard. A perfect example of post industrialism the island is dotted with cliff faces boasting old pipes, metal plinths, and general industrial detritus . Once a thriving shipyard it still houses the abandoned cranes, tumbling down, rusted wire, cyclone mesh fences, and deserted, obsolete machinery. Home now to urban, weekend thrill seekers, who camp in uniformly arranged campsites. It has two beautifully restored and productive turn of the century cottages, and a light-keepers station.
A hulking, rusted, corrugated iron, factory, dots one part of the island, providing a menacing sentinel to times past, and reviving evocative memories for those who toiled there. The cavernous warehouse spaces are put to good use as offices for creative practice. During the Biennale, they served as gallery spaces. A winding harbour vista reveals the extent of the industrial presence, and blights the picturesque seascape with souvenirs of a voracious, non sustainable shipbuilding industry . Many rusted, distressed pieces of manufacturing industry, still dot the landscape.