Unearth

Unrefined beauty: photographs taken from a small plane with its door removed reveal Rotterdam’s ore deposits and oil refineries to be an unexpected wellspring for an imposing abstract series.

  • Words + Photography: Brendan Austin

The Unearth series of pictures were taken from the air above the industrial harbour of Rotterdam. I have always been drawn to photographing industrial and disused locations, including secret tunnels under London, a nuclear submarine base in Crimea and a radio telescope in Latvia. However, nothing prepared me for the incredible raw patterns of the oil refineries and piles of ore deposits in Rotterdam.

‘Graphic form has always been a driving aspect of my work. I am always in pursuit of simplification, minimal lines and negative space.’

Shooting from a small plane with the door removed and circling in hard turns above the smoke pipes, I felt like I was literally hanging in the sky, looking directly down onto what we have unearthed from nature.

‘Technically my priority is to create images that are not flat - a challenge when shooting aerials.’

Graphic form has always been a driving aspect of my work. Technically my priority is to create images that are not flat – a challenge when shooting aerials.

‘Whenever possible I like to shoot in pairs or as a triptych. Unearth gave me the opportunity to set up a grid like series.’

My father worked as an oil engineer, so in many respects I have been brought up with a connection to these areas. I’m fascinated by the complexities of the refinery; the intricate details of the pipes and switches.

This was set directly alongside the endless piles of crude ore, like an example not only of our ingenuity, but also the undeniable cost to the environment.

Brendan Austin is a photographer based in London.

Article taken from
Articles

Further Reading

Peter Freuchen

Shot here by Irving Penn in 1947, we commemorate the life of the Danish explorer, author, journalist and anthropologist who discovered Inuit culture, resisted the Nazis and won 'The $64,000 Question'.

Werner Bischof’s Diary

An extract from the Swiss photographer’s diary describes a dawn ascent of the Alps and highlight his lyrical relationship with the landscape, and his existential and humanist interests.

Truly Madly Deeply

Iridescent scales, exotic patterns, fluorescent fins: the jewels of the ocean. Ali bin Thalith’s passion for marine photography, kindled by his wish to capture a shot of the rare crystal octopus, has lasted for over 10 years 

Hope After Destruction

Shining a light onto Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak, a remarkable Polish female architect whose work defined a bold new era.

Life Inside a Saturation Chamber

‘It’s quicker to get back from the moon than from the depths we work at’: Inside one of the world’s most isolated jobs.

Up Close: The William Gordon Telescope

Based in Puerto Rico, this is the world's largest single-aperture radio telescope. People come here to view the planets of the solar system passing through the northern half of their orbit.
Browse by Category