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

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.

Up Close: Street Boxing in Ghana

No glitz, no glamour; just pain and passion. Street fighting in Bukom, Ghana – a small, poor fishing village renowned for its remarkable ability to produce world champion boxers.

Up Close: The Floating Tongue

Scientists are explorers too, especially those that rely on remote fieldwork to bring back the data necessary to advance their research.

Anabasis

Anabasis, from the Greek word ana, meaning to step or march, is an expedition from a coastline up into the interior of a country. Tobias Harvey explores the Maunsell Forts and surrounding coast with various autumn/winter collections.

Up Close: Ice Fishers

Photographer Aleksey Kondratyev on the generations of Kazakh men who brave temperatures that often reach forty degrees below zero in the hope of catching fish beneath the ice.

Bio–Mimicry Beckons

A thread that can stop a plane mid-air: Luke Edwards on tech’s nature-inspired future.
Browse by Category