PETER IAIN CAMPBELL | GLASGOW, SCOTLAND
I am a professional photographer based in Glasgow, Scotland. My time is split between a variety of commercial assignments, personal projects & commissions. From the summer of 2014, I have spent a proportion of my time working and shooting on various oil & gas installations in the North Sea.
What is your work about?
My practice is predominantly focused on the use of traditional industrial land as it morphs from its function supporting heavy industry into modern redevelopment. It’s essentially the period in-between that fascinates me – the ‘no man’s land’ of the post-industrial landscape and the people that occupy those spaces.
However, the 10 images that form the basis of this submission relate not to the land, but to the sea and where industry collides with nature – the incongruous existence of the North Sea Oil & Gas Installation and the precarious position that the people working offshore find themselves facing during a period of uncertainty and industrial decline.
All of these photographs were made on a Drilling Rig I was assigned to for two years, until September 2016, when the Contract expired and the vast majority of the crew onboard were served notice of redundancy. The images are from the series, “Starlings on Fire”, which is the first part of a larger, ongoing body of work exploring aspects relating to Oil & Gas operations in the North Sea.
I developed a strong relationship with the crew onboard, but I had an almost equal interest in the architecture, machinery and layout of the rig. There’s an underlying feeling of isolation, volatility and danger offshore. The confined physical environment can be claustrophobic, the natural elements harsh and brutal. By combining the seascapes and the portraits I wanted to convey these qualities, but maintain a certain level of distance and anonymity between the crew and the viewer, referencing early industrial/portrait photography (late 1800s/early 1900s) that heavily inspired me during the production of this project.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
Roger Ballen succinctly called it the “great alchemy of analogue”. For me, working on film is part photography, part meditation. It’s the tactility of the medium with its own unique wow and flutter…….. and it’s a great waiting game.
In terms of my North Sea project and the images included in this submission, working on film had an added element of practicality – it meant that I didn’t have to get a ‘Permit to Work’ every time I wanted to shoot. This was a good thing. It gave me relative freedom to work around my 12-hour daily shifts and I often worked at night, where shooting opportunities often only presented themselves at 2 or 3am in the morning.