There is no hiding from the grand immensity of the mill that is the Burnie Paper Mill. As you draw closer to the coastal township of Burnie on the dual lane highway, the Burnie Paper Mill is akin to a town itself, with a massive number and styles of modernist buildings sprawling across the site, large trucks coming and going, and smoke bellowing from the chimney stacks. The Burnie Paper Mill is a vast and sprawling network of architectural highlights. But all is not well at the Mill.....
The Burnie Mill begun operations in 1936, and there are many excellent examples of Art Deco and Modernist buildings on site. Back in it's heyday the Burnie Mill employed some 4000 people, but now this figure has dramatically dropped. Hundreds of employees at the Mill have recently lost their jobs, and it's at risk of closure if there are no buyers by mid 2010.
There is a visual somberness lingering over entire site. It's structures are smeared with years of grime and stand as battled tributes to an industrial era. Whilst the buildings still stand tall, as they did when they were first erected, there is an air of somberness to them, they look tired and act as a visual metaphor for what may ultimately be the end of an era.
The importance to document such buildings visually is paramount in my mind because if the site closes down it would be likely that the buildings would be demolished. This is a part of our history, both architectural and social that may be coming to an end. Not just at the Burnie Mill, but around Tasmania, Australia and the world this is happening to these kind of jobs.
The loss of these manual labor industries is a loss to peoples jobs, and in turn effects the communities in which they live. The buildings serve as a visual reminder to this industrial heritage, and when these industries wind up, jobs lost, and buildings demolished a part of collective history is lost forever. Capturing the moment via the photograph is one way in capturing a visual record of a point in time that will undoubtedly change forever.
To view my Photo Essay of the Burnie Paper Mill, click here
About the project
Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website www.tryanphotos.com under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.
My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website www.tryanphotos.com and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires