The Blast Furnace

8 November 2010

Ian Macdonald is an internationally acclaimed documentary photographer based in the North East of England.

He has photographed the people and places of Teesside for the past 40 years. His love of the region, the beauty of the landscape – great expanses of wildness nestling alongside some of Europe’s most heavily industrialised areas – and his stolid admiration for the people working and living amongst this environment has resulted in the most honest and passionate depiction of a place that he continues to record today.

Much of the cultural heritage in Teesside has been built on over 160 years of iron making in blast furnaces.

In the 1880s there were as many as 166 furnaces operating in the region. The economic downturn has hit Middlesbrough hard.

The shut down of Redcar Blast Furnace early in 2010 resulted not only in many job losses throughout the region, but left its people once again facing a future where hope seems impossible.

In this book, The Blast Furnace, Macdonald explores, through his extensive archive of photographs, the landscape the Blast Furnace stands in and touches on the process of making iron.

Essentially, however, the book is a testament to the photographer’s passion for creating images of people in their working environment. Macdonald’s unparalleled access to the furnace offers a unique record of the industry.

Extraordinary images from within the working blast furnace are interlaced with portraits of the men. A sense of hard work, pride and a nobility of spirit may be seen in each of the large-format plate camera studies of the workers.

The book concludes with the current situation of the Blast Furnace – that it may be re-opened, once again making the finest iron in the world, supplying raw materials to the sustainable energy industry.

In 2007 Ian Macdonald published the book Eton, (ISBN 978 1 870434 29 4), a book documenting his year-long stay as artist in residence at Eton College, Windsor. In the accompanying essay, Old Etonian Ed. Dimsdale, described Eton as “another kind of blast furnace”.

Macdonald’s work is held in many public and private collections of photographs including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Danish Royal Library, the Navigator Foundation, Boston Ma., and MIMA.

The first printing of the book is limited to 1000 copies.
Ten of the books will be available accompanied by a limited edition print of one of the photographs from the book, hand printed by the artist on fibre based paper, titled, signed and numbered and presented in a hand made slip case.

Published by Ian Macdonald
64 pages 30 cm X 24.5 cm
Hard cover
ISBN: 978 1 870434 24 2
Publication date: November 2010.
Please contact for prices.