DIM Furniture, Thomastown (Industryscapes 34)

Registration Number
Type of Object
watercolour and fineliner on paper
When Made
Public Description: 

DIM Furniture, Thomastown (Industryscapes 34) is a precise and detailed industrial landscape presented to the viewer from an eye-level street perspective: a factory located in Thomastown, a northern suburb of Melbourne, comprising silos and heavy equipment together with a jumble of accumulated debris. Employing a flatness of form and colour, Senior’s watercolour palette is deliberately subtle using many colours with similar tonal values to construct a composition that reflects our understanding of a stereotypical Melbourne industrial site.

Senior’s artwork interrogates the themes of industry, suburbia and human influence over the landscape. His practice investigates the literal landscape with attention to the reduction of features achieved through colour blocking, architectural volumes and geometry to describe the human-intervened landscape. Influenced by artists such as Richard Estes (United States b.1932), Charles Sheeler (United States 1883-1965) and Jeffrey Smart (Australia 1921-2013), his work is evocative and contemplative, filled with intricate detail and informed by a passion for finding beauty in an austere built landscape.

DIM Furniture, Thomastown (Industryscapes 34) © Ken Senior

Makers Statement: 
I am a 1946 baby boomer. I trained in graphic design and worked as a commercial artist during the 60's. The early 70's involved teacher training and teaching art for three years in Warragul followed by two year's travel in Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. Further training in the late 70's resulted in a Diploma and ceramics exhibition at the Hamilton Art Gallery. I worked as an art teacher in Hamilton and Whittlesea and as an art assistant in Balwyn for the last 10 years. Recently retired from the paid workforce I have a little more time to spend drawing and painting. In October 2002 I set a goal to draw 'Fifteen Factories' as a form of discipline and to help overcome a tendency to procrastinate. As the number of drawings increased my interest in the challenge grew. I am currently working on the 52nd drawing/painting in the series. My enthusiasm for the subject is undiminished although my ability to find and connect with sites has slowed. Why factories? I have always been interested in other peoples work and work places, seeing what and how things are made. I particularly like older factories because they tend to reveal their 'guts' unlike the factories being built now that conceal what goes on behind metal cladding and tilt slab concrete. Many of the old factories have grown and been added to over time with little or no regard for aesthetics or good design, form has truly followed function. My visual interest in factories is stimulated by the contrast of large, simple forms (cubes, rectangular boxes, cones, cylinders) and intricate details and textures. Why 'Outback'? My interest here is to look behind the front or facade, to discover and depict the face we don't have on show. The back is often more functional and utilitarian and is nearly always simpler. It's a face that shows, more honestly, who we are and how we live in and use the environment. I started this as a series of 10 drawings/paintings to broaden my subject matter and it continues to grow (currently working on the 13th) as I find new sites. In doing this work I hope to make people aware of and sensitized to the places and things that I find interesting. In the way the Heidelberg painters, Fred Williams and William Delafield Cook have helped me to see the Australian landscape with new eyes. Recently, on the ferry trip from Hobart up the Derwent river to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), a companion, familiar with my 'Industryscapes', found the huge Consolidated Zinc factory as interesting and worthy of notice, as the museum exterior.