A bridge not too far

ABRIDGED: Artist Dino Consalvo has been painting the bridges of Sydney en plein air. Picture: Louise Kennerley

ABRIDGED: Artist Dino Consalvo has been painting the bridges of Sydney en plein air. Picture: Louise Kennerley

AS an 18-year-old art student at Alexander Mackie College in 1976, Dino Consalvo spent hours sitting at Peacock Point, Balmain, watching the waters and lights of Sydney. 

“I would sit there in the middle of the night just looking at the city,” Consalvo said.

“Coming from Newcastle, it was the big smoke and I was fascinated by the lights. Everything was bigger in Sydney.”

From his vantage point he could see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“The suspension of Sydney Harbour Bridge is fantastic, coming from two points and meeting in the one point. It’s quite brave,” he said. 

The acclaimed painter has now returned to paint the bridges that span the waters of Sydney. 

The artist has built a special pushbike fitted with a foldaway easel on which he has traversed the streets to find points of view – under bridges, beside them and above – from which to paint.  

“The bike gets me wherever I want to get quickly, and I can be set up in two minutes,” he said. 

His painting endeavour has a performance element as small crowds have gathered to watch him work. 

“It’s been mostly people not from Sydney, usually a visitor to the town,” he said. “Sydney people are used to unusual things.”

The works focus on the Sydney Harbour, Pyrmont, Gladesville, Anzac, Iron Cove and The Spit bridges. More than a dozen of the works are currently on exhibition at Janet Clayton Gallery, Paddington, until July 2.  

“All the bridges of Sydney are built differently,” Consalvo said. “I love looking at the way they are made, just incredibly good engineering.

“When you understand how a bridge is made, you can play with it from different angles. I have played with a couple … abstracting it a bit.” 

Some of the paintings offer a detail or glimpse, others take in the full span of the bridges and surrounding landscape. All ask the viewer to reconsider them. 

“Painting is almost exploratory. I like to understand what I am painting and through the process of painting I get to understand it,” he said. 

Consalvo will exhibit these works in Newcastle at Art Systems Wickham from September 15 until October 1. 

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