In September I found myself in a print works, in October a steelworks, cotton mill and woollen mill. There was no reason for this, no project in mind, just that I have always been interested in history and heritage, and early technologies and working practices fascinate me. I do not know very much, but I gain something from visiting, learning and (inevitably) taking photographs.
As a school pupil, I visited a car factory on a school trip in the early 1980s – Longbridge – and it fascinated me – unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs at the time. Then I moved from the South to the North in the 1980s into a flat with a working coalmine at the bottom of our road. Since then, I have had one or two employed jobs that have involved visiting manufacturing places and as a result have been in various types of factory as a visitor. I have always had to work hard, perhaps that is why I go to these sites, to reinforce an appreciation that my concept of hard work is very different from the physical hard labour of the past, but also to appreciate that many people around the world are still risking their lives on a daily basis and that this type of work is not a museum piece for them. Typically there is a darkness to my photographs with abstracted shapes and shadows of machinery.
I have never really thought about these ‘industrial’ visits as a pattern until now. Over the years I have visited mines for lead, coal, tin, glassworks, print works, cable works, mills, workshops, factories etc. It is not something I have been exploring photographically with the intention of a project, but I am including the most recent examples here, as these sites were all visited and photographed during the Sustainable Prospects module.