Another chapter in Newcastle’s history was closed with the final wool sale in February 2013. Like many other industries in this region, the wool industry has suffered a long decline in the face of competition from more cost-effective alternatives. Cost effectiveness pays no respect to the century of rich history or the people that played a part in the writing of that chapter.
Much of my own working life was spent in another declining industry and over many years the traditions of that industry became part of me. Looking back, my memories are fragmentary: snapshots of people and events and the machines and ‘atmosphere’ of the workplace. These are the ‘remnants’ of my working life.
In the week of the wool auction I saw parallels between the wool industry and my own work life and sought out the potential remnants that would represent the passing of the wool industry in Newcastle. I found these in the tools of the trade – the bale cart, the wool bins and display cages – some old and some new but each with their own patina of use; in the fragments of wool; in the glossy black of the lanolin stained floor; in the very last bale and the vast emptiness of the warehouse space and in the timeless snapshots of the people, spaces and events of those last days.
Exhibited at Watt Space gallery in June 2013 as part of the Going, Going, Gone group show.
Prints from the series are now part of the Australian Wool Network P/L collection.
Media: silver halide prints