Shutter Hub member Kevin Casey is a photographer, film maker and digital imaging artist, a qualified teacher and a published photographer. His range of work covers; commercial photography and video production, fine art exhibitions and installations, archiving gallery and museum works, educational workshops and lessons, and traditional film photography, printing and darkroom practices.
Kevin is currently working as a night watchman at the ex Pilkington Glass factory HQ in St Helens, Merseyside. During his patrols of the site he has been documenting and recovering archive materials of what remains of a once great industrial powerhouse. Here he shares his resulting photographic project Shouldn't Throw Stones, and talks about his hopes for collaborating, and exhibiting and publishing the work…
I have been photographing and filming the inner workings, remains and archives of the old Pilkingtons Glass HQ (currently Alexandra Business Park) in St Helens, Merseyside.
The site is a vast complex structure filled with historical rooms, objects and varied artefacts of bygone eras. It is also a working office space (in parts) for NHS, game designers, local businesses and charities who reside in the ‘shell’ of the listed/dated brutalist architecture and 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s to present day décor.
It is my intention to publish a book and create an installation for exhibition that relates to the historical and current impact and legacy of the Pilkington ‘empire’ and to investigate what remains there still are and how the site will fare in the future.
I have undertaken a role at the site as a night watchman. This gives me an understanding and behind the scenes viewpoint of operations, meeting staff and clients on a regular basis and also gaining access to private locations behind locked doors.
I would like to photograph and interview any ex members of staff/workers and record their stories and hopefully create a form of digital archive of people’s history with the site. It is also my intention to collaborate with other creatives, musicians, writers and artists to create a body of work which contributes to the final publication and exhibition.
If you are an ex worker or local resident who has a history or connection to Pilkingtons I would like to hear from you.
*** UPDATE ***
SHOULDN’T THROW STONES – The view of a Night Watchman, will exhibit at Alexandra Park, Prescot Road, St Helens, WA10 3TP from 4th May – 3rd June 2018.
The exhibition is the culmination of a two-year project undertaken by Shutter Hub’s Kevin Casey. Part documentary photography, part archival re-presentation and part making ends meet, as Casey’s ‘night job’ as an on-site security guard at the former Pilkington Glass Headquarters became his ‘day job’ as an artist, the work presented tells the story of an uncertain future, tense present and captivating past.
The collection, including C-Type prints, archive film, projections and uncovered artefacts also testifies to the situation that Casey found himself in – part voyeur and part guardian – whilst drawing the viewers’ attention to the vicissitudes of contemporary capitalism and its contested relationship to our recent industrial and manufacturing past.
Further to the works on display at Alexandra Park, visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to visit selected spaces within the former Pilkington Glass complex, designed by the mid-20th Century Architect, Edwin Maxwell Fry, of Fry and Drew. A short tour will include a visit to the modernist Tower whose Armourclad panels have dominated the skyline of St. Helen’s since the complexes construction in the late 1950s. Avinash Chandra’s back-lit, abstract relief panel of stained, fused glass and Jon Humphrey Spender’s artwork can also be viewed, as well as the panelled lift lobby, former canteen and elements of the landscaped grounds, including the north lake and concrete bridge.
As much of the site is not normally publicly accessible, the exhibition and short tour provides a rare opportunity to view a Modernist landmark and exhibited materials that possess a deep local and global significance.
See our 8 Great Photography Exhibitions to See May 2018 for more information.
All images © Kevin Casey
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