Ian Beesley is a documentary photographer with a long history of recording industry in the North. He is a really entertaining speaker who is both inspiring and very very funny. He often teams up with his friend Ian McMillan, the poet and radio presenter.
The partnership have an exhibition presently on at Salt’s Mill at Saltaire, just north of Bradford. Part of the exhibition is based on Ian Beesley’s shots of the Mill in the 80’s, when it was facing demolition, and today.
The Mill’s history, as part of Saltaire and the factory of Titus Salt and its enduring Italiante style were two features much in its favour, but the appearance of a buyer, John Silver, ensured its survival. It is now a centre for several interesting businesses, such as the biggest stockists of early musical instruments in the World. John Silver had connections with David Hockney and part of the building is always devoted to displaying his work.
A second part of the exhibition by the two Ian’s is the Big Camera, originally owned by a wallpaper manufacturer and moved to Oldham museum when the original owners business closed. When Ian Beesley saw it he resolved to get it working again and after a year’s restoration work it was loaded into a Transit van and hiked off to try out.
It takes 24 inch negatives, which would need special manufacture (probably always did) and so Ian simply pasted 24 smaller negatives together. The resulting prints are still a mosaic, but it makes an interesting exercise. I have to say that the image quality is good, but not quite as good as I expected, perhaps because he used paper negatives.
The exhibition has been in place for two years and there was no note of when it finishes, ring and check if you are calling in.