Martin Parr

Submarines in Barrow, aircraft, probes and animation in Bristol and the west

I love to photograph people at work. There is a real challenge in capturing that strange love/hate relationship we have with our jobs. Depending on the work and the people doing it, the balance of that relationship changes but there is always a degree of tension as well as satisfaction and I am looking for ways to express this in my pictures.

What a chance, then, to visit a range of factories and try to show the current state of British manufacturing. I worked around Bristol, my local area, where we have GKN, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, and I photographed one of BAE’s research sites in the city. But really I wanted to see their nuclear submarine yard in Barrow-in-Furness.

So a couple of months later I walked into what must be the biggest shed in British industry, where two nuclear subs were slowly being assembled. It was quite a sight to behold – the man shown striding across the floor gives some indication of the scale.

Renishaw, based in Gloucestershire, is a real success story. Founded in 1973 by two ex-Rolls-Royce employees, it has filled the niche for precision engineering, much of which is applied to the medical industry, and is now a global company. Renishaw invests heavily in research and development, which keeps it well ahead of the pack.

I have watched Aardman, one of Bristol’s most famous companies, grow exponentially during my time living here. I knew David Sproxton, one of the founders, long before he started up and before Wallace & Gromit took the world by storm. Watching the filming in their studios is fascinating, as the progress is so slow – getting five seconds of animation done in a day is really going it.

Other photographers include Stuart Franklin, Jonas Bendiksen, Mark Power, Peter Marlow, Chris Steele-Perkins, David Hurn, Alessandra Sanguinetti. Peter Marsh, the FT’s former manufacturing editor, introduces the issue

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