BY ADRIAN THEZE
Adrian Theze is a photographer living and working in Cornwall.
He has worked as a teacher for many years before turning to photography full time. He has a particular interests in contemporary and visual art photography more particularly, photographing industrial and utilitarian architecture. There is a long industrial heritage in Cornwall from the very earliest tin mines to the more modern china clay workings in central Cornwall.
It is the industrial and rural architecture of the past, the sites that lie derelict that hold the biggest draw for Adrian. While many see ugliness, he seeks to find the beauty and to capture the essence of what these sites meant for so many working men and woman over the years. A livelihood, a focus for social interaction, a way of life. When industrial plants close, whole communities are impacted. These are not just buildings, wherever one looks, one can always find evidence of the all-important human element that made these buildings work. It’s this evidence he looks for, he wants to tell the story with his photographs, to get people to look beyond, the rusting steel, decaying concrete and crumbling brickwork.
For many years, china clay mined from the hills above St Austell was pumped in suspension to Par Docks where it was stored in huge concrete silos before being dried and loaded aboard ships for export but in 2006, it was announced that the docks would close with the loss of 800 jobs.
One of my earliest memories is paddling in the sea at Par, sinking up to my ankles in sand mixed with china clay, the result of spillages from the docks. This place has been a part of my consciousness for 48 years, I wanted to mark its passing.
These photographs are about my sense of loss and sadness that this closure evokes; my choice of processing serving to emphasise the decline and abandonment. Once a hive of industry, now just echoes of the past and its ghosts remain.
On a site once teeming with people and activity, wagons no longer run along their steel tracks. The vast sheds and huge silos stand empty, their machinery rusting slowly. The café with its strings of bunting still poignantly clinging on, hoping for better times, no longer serves its burgers and chips.
For seaman who needed spiritual guidance with their coffee, a welcome once awaited them at the flying angel club, but this too stands empty. The harbour office no longer takes enquiries and the phone box outside no longer makes calls, it stands at a drunken angle, its door long gone.
In my central image, the cross in the concrete suggests to me the need for an epitaph… ‘rest in peace’ perhaps?
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