“When I got the commission to photograph the textile and wool industry around Bradford, I accepted immediately but not because I had anything particular to say about the topic, or because I had much prior knowledge. Sure, I knew that this area was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and that probably it didn’t really look like that anymore, but, mainly, I accepted because I generally like getting into situations I have to explore from scratch.
A part of me was very apprehensive, as it’s often a huge challenge to photograph industry and manufacturing. The facilities are often incredibly sterile, the machinery automatic and, more and more, one cannot really see so much of a human interaction with the process. It’s not great fun to photograph people in a clean room, monitoring an automatic process on a computer screen. I figured I had to be prepared to find a way around this.
But when I walked into the first mill, William Halstead, I realised quickly that all my preconceptions were wrong. The old mill buildings were filled with history, both in terms of people who have worked their whole lives in the mills, but also, in the machinery, the architecture and processes. I was intrigued by how much the processes of weaving, scouring and wool processing have links to how it’s been done for the last hundred years.
To me, there was something innately beautiful, mesmerising, or even hypnotic about the various steps the wool goes through before it becomes clothing materials. The rhythms and choreography of the machinery had its own aesthetic, harking back to the Industrial Revolution. I was inspired to explore this both with photography and video. I wanted to somehow connect the contemporary to the archaic, and the automatic to the human.”
Area Rugs & Carpets
Abraham Moon & Sons
British Wool Marketing Board
Harrison Spinks Ltd
Texere Yarns Ltd
Knitting group at Shipley Garden Centre
Bendiksen began his career as an intern at Magnum’s London office before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. He has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York, and first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Awards. His documentary of life in a Nairobi slum, Kibera, published in the Paris Review, won a National Magazine Award in 2007.