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The Menders

A documentary photography project about people who repair things.

The Menders is an investigation into the craft and trade of repair, and the people who practise it as a profession, set against the backdrop of a city that is gradually evolving into a powerhouse of retail and consumption.

Armed with a notebook and a repaired 6×6 camera, I set out to find places in Birmingham where people repair and restore broken or worn-out things. With these images I invite you into the workshops, studios and shopfronts of the menders, to frame and interpret their place in society, and to observe the collaboration between object, machine and mender.

This project is a celebration of the aesthetics of the menders, their workplaces, tools and their craft. But also a comment on the notion of value in the present, in what is all too often termed; a throw-away culture.

The Menders - Paul's yard
The Menders - Paul

Paul — car repair and restoration

The Menders - Amarjit

Amarjit — clothing design, repair and customisation

The Menders - Amarjit's workshop
The Menders - Michael's workshop
The Menders - Michael

Michael — jewellery design and repair

The Menders - Nigel

Nigel — stained glass window restoration

The Menders - Nigel's workshop
The Menders - Lucy's workshop
The Menders - Lucy

Lucy — clothing design, repair and restoration

The Menders - Jamie

Jamie — furniture build, fabrication and restoration

The Menders - Jamie's workshop
The Menders - Luke's workshop
The Menders - Luke

Luke — shoe and leather repairs

The Menders - Kit

Kit — framing and artwork restoration

The Menders - Kit's original Willard Wigan artwork

Images from The Menders were exhibited as part of the International Young Photography exhibition in South Korea, Some Stories and Reception exhibitions in the UK. Also featured in the book Foundation of the Perception, South Korea 2016.

Many thanks to Paul, Amarjit, Michael, Nigel, Lucy, Jamie and Kit, for taking the time to talk with me about their work, and for agreeing to be photographed. Also to Andrew Jackson and Dan Burwood for the support and mentoring throughout the project.