Open for Business – Student led Study Visit, Science Museum – 30 October 2014

For this visit I met up with Peter and John, members of the OCA SW Group. The exhibition was held amongst the main galleries of the museum – rather than the Media Space where previous exhibitions have been shown.

Arts Agency, Multistory and Magnum Photos commissioned nine of the worlds leading photographers to document British manufacturing industry at a critical time. The resulting images show that Britain is still “Open for Business”. The nine photographers, Stuart Franklin, David Hurn, Peter Marlow, Martin Parr, Mark Power, Chris Steele-Perkins, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Bruce Gilden and Jonas Bendiksen each photographed in different areas of the UK in over a hundred workplaces which ranged from sole traders to multinational corporations. I have chosen to write about two photographers whose work is very different, Stuart Franklin and Bruce Gilden.

Stuart Franklin has a long history of photographing the sea and ships. Amongst his contribution to the exhibition were photographs of the construction of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth Dockyard and wind and wave energy projects on the land and off the coast of Scotland. His images are in black and white. (All the other contributions were in colour) On his website there are slideshows of both the Carrier and the Alternative Energy Scotland, galleries. Thinking about the subject matter and its monochromatic nature, black and white was probably an ideal choice. Franklin mentioned in his write up the community feel of the yard at Rosyth…”men coming and going together in large groups, to work, to eat or to rest”… but the images are primarily about the manufactured objects themselves.


By contrast, Bruce Gilden’s images of workers at the Tate and Lyle and Vauxhall factories in London, taken in his customary unflattering style (as in his street photography) shows the physical effects of manual labour. It was interesting to note from Bruce Gilden’s interview that he chose his subjects for something  in their appearance that would make a memorable or distinctive picture. It was also interesting to note that to achieve the close up portraits he had his assistant hand hold the flash.


The Project website gives examples of work, information and video interviews with the photographers:


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