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On the industrial buildings of my childhood

As source material for the prints and paintings I've been working on for the past few years, I taped photos to my studio walls of mine buildings and other industrial structures.

Some of them are things that I actually saw in my childhood. After a short internet search, I turned up this picture of the Backworth colliery, taken in the early twentieth century:

My grandfather worked in this pit at some time in his life, kneeling in a narrow mineshaft, half a mile underground, and hewing the coalface with a pick-axe. It was still more or less operating when I was a child. I distinctly remember seeing the wheelhouse looming over the trees when I went to school.

This is the same pit in the 1990s, after the demise of the coal industry in the north-east of England:

Chicago, where I live now, is still an industrial city, at least on its eastern side. But in the centre of the city you can still find remnants of the factories and stockyards that made its name and fortune a century ago. This iron and concrete bridge is something that I pass every time I drive to my studio:

And just a few hundred yards away is this cement factory, which continues its dirty work even though the buildings surrounding it are increasingly being turned into condominiums and upscale shopping centres:

I put all these photos into black and white to emphasise the similarities between them, and to show that elements of what we think of as a past era persist in plain view.

Here's a slideshow of an accordion book I made out of some of those pictures that stare down at me from my studio wall:



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