OCA IAP (p63) asks us to watch a talk by Elina Brotherus to OCA students about her own work.
It is a short talk of a few minutes and focuses more on her process of working than her photographs. Her advice is simple; get out and photograph more, following your instincts and leave the analysis of what you have made until later.
After reading the advice, I did just that – a 30 minute drive to Saltaire, UNESCO world heritage village to walk around and photograph and just see what came up.
Saltaire was an industrial village built by August Salt (mill owner) in 1851 to house his workers and provide welfare and education facilities. It would have once been busy with industry and workers going about their daily activities. It is now preserved for heritage and tourism. The grand mill is a successful a location for artisan shopping and cafes and a gallery space for the largest collection of Hockney’s work in the world. It needed to be repurposed to survive and this undoubtedly required substantial effort and investment by the current owners.
I felt a sense of melancholy walking around – similar to a recent visit to Liverpool’s Albert Dock – both once places providing labour and productive output, but now housing gift shops and coffee shops, with little feel of community.
I processed a few of the photos with a sense of nostalgia (for a time of course I could not have known), which may not have been shared by the people employed at hard mill-work. The processing is fake (digital in Lightroom) as is the activity now housed by the mill – no longer an industrial powerhouse, but a servant to tourism.
So, the analysis results in a strap line for the series of photos – From Industrial Powerhouse to Servant to Tourism.