A glimpse behind the art world curtain

The photographer Catherine Hyland has documented the work at Fine Art Foundry in London, where artworks for the likes of Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, and Anish Kapoor are created

In one of the forgotten corners of London’s East End, some of the world’s most prized – and controversial – artworks are being created.

The Fine Art Foundry is housed in a prepossessing building, a relic of the past, immune so far to gentrification, just minutes from Canary Wharf but close to some of the highest child poverty rates in the country. In the 20th century the building served as Spratt’s Dog Biscuit factory but during the second Boer War the building was used to make four million ship’s biscuits a week for the British Army.

During lockdown, photographer Catherine Hyland would go on long walks. “I kept seeing this building with strange objects coming in and out of it and I wanted to know what was inside,” she says. What she found has kept her occupied for the last two years. The result is an in-depth view of these skilled makers – people and work that often remain invisible to the public.

In the past, Hyland’s award-winning work has looked at humanity’s attempts to tame its environment. This photo series, she says, “looks at the relationship between makers, the people who employ them and the ‘language’ required of materials in a sculptural sense”.

All images: © Catherine Hyland