Shipwreck Galleries – Fremantle

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The Urban Sketcher Perth met up yesterday morning for our monthly sketch-meet, this time in Fremantle at the Shipwreck Galleries.

I arrived a little early on the train and had time to scribble this quick sketch above from a conveniently placed bench in the shade. This solid limestone building sitting on the corner of Cliff Street and Croke Lane was built sometime in the 1850’s as a government stores. At that time the seashore was much closer and a jetty allowed large ships to offload their cargo into this building….supplies for the new settlement of Perth had to be carried by smaller boats as the Swan river was not navigable for ships until after 1897.

It turned out to be a hot (38’C) day so most of us sought sanctuary inside the Shipwreck Galleries museum which has lovely air-conditioning!


There’s quite a variety of artifacts in the museum, from the infamous “Batavia” to lesser known but equally fascinating brig “Stefano” which sunk in a storm after hitting Ningaloo Reef south of Point Cloates in 1876. The 3 masted barque was carrying 1300 tons of coal from Cardiff (Wales) for Hong Kong with crew of 17 (16 Croatian, 1 English, the master of the ship was the oldest at only 25 years old!). Seven crew drowned, the remaining crew made the 6km distance to shore on flotsam and headed South towards Gascoyne River. Here they met the local Aboriginal people who though they could not converse were able to get some directions and were given a map that had washed ashore. The survivors of the storm then tried to find their way south but became disorientated in the desolate scrub-land and blinding sand/salt lakes. The crew scattered in desperation searching for water and died of exhaustion and thirst….all except for 2 lads (16 year old Miho and 20 year old Ivan) who headed inland and found the Aboriginal mob again. The Aboriginals were very humane and nursed Miho and Ivan back to health, looking after them forr 3 months, teaching them about the land and animals, Aboriginal  language and culture. A passing cutter later picked them up and took the pair to Fremantle where they were treated as marvels for their survival. The two returned to Croatia but stopped on the way to give gifts to the Aboriginals who had saved their lives. The wreck was discovered in 1997 between 2 and 9 meters deep.

20161126-samuel-plimsollThis is a fountain pen sketch of the Samuel Plimsoll figure head that once gazed hopefully from the bow of the ship the “Samuel Plimsoll”.

Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898) was failed coal merchant who experienced hard times and later dedicated his life to improving maritime safety. At this time shipping was largely unregulated, overladen and unseaworthy ships were commonly known as “coffin ships”. Plimsoll became an MP and campaigned against the wealthy and powerful shipping magnates to introduce the Merchant Shipping Act enforcing maximum load levels – the Load or Plimsoll line is still on every ship today.

The passenger clipper “Samuel Plimsoll” was an iron hulled 3 masted full rigged ship built in Aberdeen in 1873 as an emigrant ship for the colony of Australia. The ship’s owner (Thompson’s Aberdeen Line) named the ship in Plimsoll’s honour (and invited him to the launch) after Plimsoll mentioned the Aberdeen company in parliament as an example of a reputable shipping company who never overloaded their vessels. It seems that the ship had a number of collisions and lost its gear quite frequently but was surprisingly fast when all was well …. in 1878 sailed Plymouth England to Melbourne Australia in 86 days. Catching fire in 1899 on the Thames in London and scuttled was the end of passenger days, re-floated in 1900 intended for New Zealand service the ship was dis-masted off the NZ coast. Not worthy of repair the ship was used as a coal hulk for the next 40 years before finally colliding with another ship “Dalgoma” in 1948 in Gage Roads shipping lane just outside of Fremantle.



The UsK Perth group sketches, 7 of us in total, great sketching everyone.

Freo Cranes on a sunny afternoon

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A sunny spring time stroll down the beach from North to South Cottesloe, stopping on the rocky groyne to watch the beach……people swimming, kids digging, beach soccer and sun baking….

Looking South the Freo cranes were ready for work, I counted 8 ships out at sea waiting for the high tide, the kite surfers only needed to wait for the sea breeze to arrive…. skittering across the tops of the waves in a warm southerly breeze….

South Terrace, Fremantle

20160506 South Tce FreoA quick sketch of a beautiful old building across the road from Benny’s cafe on South Terrace in Fremantle yesterday. Couldn’t find any history on this place, it’s currently Dome cafe on the lower floor, don’t know who gets to enjoy the balcony views from above.

Photo below is of the Perth Sketchers plus sketching visitor Chris from Sydney.

Too brief a visit to Freo, there really is heaps to sketch here, places and people…….

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Fremantle Festival 2016

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A bike ride to Fremantle today. This is a super quick sketch of a duo called “ManoAmano- circo” from Argentina performing their act called “Kinematos” on the Esplanade as part of the Fremantle Festival this Easter weekend. (Freo was very busy on Easter Monday ….don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people there). They were really good with the act centered around a pole tethered to the ground….part clown, part death defying acrobatics. My sketch is really, really rough (fountain pen and multi-coloured ball point pen)…there were lots of people watching so it was hard to get a good vantage point and the pair (Ana and Martin) moved around a lot…. so to isolate one part of the act was tricky for me…. to draw so quickly…. At the end I asked if they would sign the sketch… which you can see on the right….a lovely afternoon….now to cycle home again….

Carriage Cafe Fremantle

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20160209 Carriage Cafe Freo PhotoThis is the Carriage Cafe in the Esplanade Park, Fremantle this morning. The park is surprisingly pleasant on a hot day…. there was a cool breeze from the Indian Ocean and lots of shade from the huge Norfolk Pine trees. (According to the Heritage Council of WA the Esplanade park is land reclaimed from the sea around 1900 and originally the seafront was the aptly named Marine Terrace).  The cafe really is made from an old train carriage and has been in existence since 1912. There’s a corrugated roof giving shelter through which two pine trees are growing …. holes cut into the roof to accommodate. The coffee wasn’t the greatest but it’s a lovely spot.

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A sandstone water fountain in the middle of the park, brass bubblers and wrought iron decoration.

Pilot Parallel Pen 1.5mm with De Atramentis Document Ink, various watercolours with Pentel waterbrush, Pentel waterbrush with Liquitex acrylic ink, Pentel waterbrush with water and a few drops of sumi ink (grey), Holcroft sketch and draw diary 225gsm.

E Sheds – Fremantle

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Wandered around Freo on Sunday arvo….hot an humid day….quite busy. Stopped at the E Sheds on Fremantle Wharf for a cool drink and to watch the people go by. A couple of quick sketches of people at a cafe and a second sketch of an old crane at the North end. I prefer the crane sketch….I like the way the watersoluble ink bleeds into the watercolour and creates a lovely shade of purple. This crane is a bit of a local landmark that might not be around for too much longer. It was built pre-war and was used for hauling sacks, barrels and boxes out of steamships holds….back in the days where “wharfies” were essential to hand-ball everything in/out and on/off the vessels…. containers and their gigantic mega-cranes hadn’t been invented. The crane is heavily rusted with a security fence surrounding it (guess there’s a danger of bits dropping off) I think it is heritage listed but is in desperate need of some TLC…. otherwise it’s likely to be removed for scrap. (Another reason this sketch is memorable for me is that I was standing in the lee of the C sheds for some shade…but there was a rubbish bin nearby…heavily used by the fishermen/women to dispose of fishy entrails…..several days of +35’C…..well I’m sure you can imagine the smell….the things we put up for in the name of art!)

Cafe sketch: De Atramentis Black document ink in Lamy Safari EF nib, Waterbrushes with Liquitex acrylic black ink (permanent), Lamy black fountain pen ink (watersoluble ink), plain water. Various watercolours, Uniball white gel pen. 

Crane sketch: De Atramentis deepwater obsession brown-black ink (watersoluble ink), Cobalt blue watercolour, Lamy black ink in waterbrush (watersoluble ink)