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The Altogether: Chris Coekin

The Altogether: Chris Coekin

Photography exhibition by Chris Coekin.

19 November 2011 — 8 January 2012

The Altogether #1

The Altogether is the latest exhibition by the artist Chris Coekin.  Over the past five years he has been visiting and producing artwork in a factory based in Sandbach, Cheshire.  The factory began manufacturing copper wire in 1834, making it one of the oldest industrial environments in the UK. Unfortunately, due to the present economic downturn, the factory recently closed and the entire workforce was made redundant.

The Altogether is a multi-layered project that investigates the notions of art, work and struggle.  Conceptually, it continues and expands upon ideas seen elsewhere in Coekin’s photographic practice and in his collaborative working methodology.  Along with a series of staged photographic portraits, Coekin has produced music sourced from the factory floor and pressed on to seven-inch vinyl records.  The exhibition audience are invited to play the records on vintage Dansette record players.

The Altogether, is a series of photographic portraits depicting the employees of the factory – the manual workers, the backbone of the production, the people who occupy the workspace.  Coekin considered how he wanted to portray them and found his inspiration in the iconography of Trade Union banners.  Skilled artisans produced the paintings depicted on the banners, many of which date back to the 19th century. The final images appropriate the poses and stances that the banners portray.

Days at the Factories and CuSo4 Shuffle audio tracks synthesise sounds from the factory and feature recorded spoken word from the factory workers.  The layering of time upon the industrial space manifests itself in the rhythmic tones and noises that echo throughout the factory.  These atmospheric noises create an eerie space that somehow manages to conjure up the souls of all the workers who have toiled away in the factory over the past 175 years.  Collaboration with a music producer has resulted in a more refined melodic and musical interpretation of these sounds.

Chris Coekin is a UK based artist.  His work has been exhibited widely including shows at: The Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Belfast Exposed, Foam Museum, Amsterdam, Stephen Bulger Gallery, Canada, Orange Festival, China and the Lodz Festival, Poland.  He has had several books published: ‘Knock Three Times’ (Dewi Lewis publishing 2006) which was nominated for the Deutsche Borse prize and won Photo District News (USA) “Best Photographic Book 2007”. ‘The Hitcher’ (Walkout Books/Photographers Gallery 2007) has been critically acclaimed and even featured on Chinese state TV!  His latest book ‘The Altogether’ (Walkout Books 2011) has been published to coincide with the exhibition at the People’s History Museum, Manchester.