From the factory floor

Photographer Chris Coekin’s new project mixes still life, staged portraiture and field recordings to convey the working life of a British wire factory

Photographer Chris Coekin’s new project mixes still life, staged portraiture and field recordings to convey the working life of a British wire factory…

The Altogether has taken Coekin the best part of five years to make in collaboration with John Pring & Son wire factory in Sandbach in Cheshire.

His focus is the factory workforce – portrayed in posed settings which reference the iconography of trade union banners – and the landscape of the factory itself, which recently closed its doors after 177 years of production.

In exploring the factory buildings, Coekin has examined their overlooked corners, often coming across discarded tools and metal objects that he then took back to his studio to photograph on a glistening background of industrial oil.

The result is more a conceptual statement on industrial labour: the toil of men and women working in tandem with machines and the ultimate fragility of a working life, even, Coekin seems to suggest, of copper, iron and heavy machinery, in the face of an unforgiving economic climate.

In this sense, Coekin’s project now also fuctions as a final tribute to the workers pictured, to the factory way of life at John Pring & Son.

The book is accompanied by a seven-inch vinyl record featuring two tracks, Days at the Factories and CuSO4 Shuffle, based on recorded sounds from the factory floor and the voices of some of the workers.

The Altogether is published by Walkout Books; £20.

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