Usually when people are thinking about the unique beauty to be enjoyed in and around the city of Hamilton (Ontario), the most prevalent thoughts immediately go to the escarpment, which lovingly looms over lower Hamilton. While I greatly appreciate this natural beauty, what has recently captivated my eye is actually man-made.
Since moving to Hamilton and living in the east side of the city, I’ve been enamoured by the sky. What really sticks out are the vertical plumes emanating from the industrial pipes throughout the industrial areas along the bay. These vertical plumes are exciting! Perhaps because vertical sky formations tend to be indicators of danger: both tornados and smoke plumes from fires are sky formations that can indicate a fair amount of danger!
The plumes, though ever-present, always manage to look different every day – depending on the atmospheric conditions. Sometimes the plumes dissipate almost immediately, and sometimes they linger until you’re not sure whether you’re seeing plume trails or actual clouds… when does one become the other? I do love how they animate the sky! It brings a certain dynamic quality to the beloved tradition of cloud watching…. You’ve got to be quick to see that elephant or that fluffy bunny wafting by!
As I’ve travelled around the industrial areas to try to get a better grip on what is going on in these steam-spewing industrial complexes, I’m captivated yet again by these pipe-laden cathedrals of industry. These structures are metal monuments to complexity with perplexing organizational purpose. It’s all so wonderfully mysterious! Where do those pipes go? What’s going on in those shiny tanks? And why? I don’t really wish to know, as it’s much more fun to wonder and imagine.
The captivation factor of the industrial buildings is further enhanced by the architecture of the buildings, which is often rather brutal in scale with strange angles and catwalk-like structures strewn all around. And the colors….!!! Nowhere else do you see such brilliant colors in the environment! Oh! the blues, aquas, and greens! The yellows in the ladders, steps, and guardrails winding through and around the structures! And the reds and oranges from the rusting smokestacks! And the flames! It’s such a spectacle that there are open flames coming from some of the stacks!
As dusk falls, the situation takes on an even more animated appearance, as the lights become an exciting visual factor, and the flames really steal the show! In the low light, the plumes take on an even more ominous appearance, especially as the lower plumes intertwine with the pipes and obliterate large chunks of the structure.
I have indeed been captivated by all of these industrial sites, and thus decided to create a (still growing) collection of paintings portraying some of my favourite sites in the industrial area of Hamilton transformed by imagination. Now, I’d like to share my vision of “Industrial Captivation” and hope to inspire a new appreciation for these crazy structures.