Grimme Continental 84

(2006)



The Grimme Continental 84 is a piece of agricultural machinery that lies in a farm compound a few miles from where I live. In its current state, it is difficult to tell whether it is equipment that has outlived its useful life and has been discarded, or whether it is capable of being revived, next time it is needed, by means of a few repairs. It is the way that the machine exists in a transitional state, at some point on the continuum between usefulness and dereliction, that first attracted me to the project of photographing it.

I have always been fascinated by ‘secret worlds’, perfect microcosms that exist in unexpected places, and the machine provides plenty of opportunities to photograph these. Of course, the visual experience of looking in detail at the Grimme Continental 84 is quite different from the visual experience of looking at images made from it. The interaction between the physical world and the art and processes of photography to produce images with interesting formal properties, that may sometimes be imbued with mystery or even exceptional beauty, has been the most important thing for me about making this series of images.

Most of the photographs are taken through a process of deliberation, although there are occasions when I have to respond rapidly to a changing situation. The machine sits out of sight in permanent shadow on the north side of a barn but one day a mechanical digger had by chance been left nearby. For a few precious moments the sun, as it moved across the sky, was reflected by the window of the cab of this other vehicle onto the Grimme Continental 84, fleetingly (and perhaps for one time only) illuminating a single corner.

I have yet to see anybody there at the weekend, but the farm compound must be busy on weekdays, judging by the number of vehicles that come and go from one visit to the next. This gives the whole project a sense of lack of permanence. My machine has already been moved once since I started to photograph it, to make way for a new track into a field, and each time I visit I half expect it to have been taken away altogether.

First image

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