Photographic employment in the 1970s – industrial territory

Sometime between the Yom Kippur war in 1973 and the three day week in 1974 – a consequence of the oil crisis following the war – I entered the industrial sector of photography working for the Building Research Establishment. It was part of the Department of the Environment and based at a sprawling site in the grounds of a one-time Victorian mansion with dozens of different departments housed in an odd mix of temporary buildings and high tech labs. Here hundreds of people (from stereotypically dull bureaucrats to truly eccentric types) worked on all aspects of research into building –  from brick packaging to acoustics; from construction in earthquake zones to how buildings collapse; and from studying wind on high-rise buildings to the immersion Continue reading

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Industrial photo excursions

I’ve always been drawn to industrial processes, if only visually – I’m partial to cogs and gearwheels, cranes and grids! (Margaret Bourke-White was an early influence.) So I’ve enjoyed a couple of visits with a camera recently to some gritty, grainy, slimy and atmospheric locations – a tannery using traditional methods to convert animal hides to leather, and Bristol Foundry where some plaster hands were transformed into aluminium sculptures to be inserted into decorative railings in Weston-super-Mare (the first stage of this process can be seen on this post). There are further photographs from both venues over on flickr (tannery and the foundry) but my relationship with this type of work goes back Continue reading