A Week at the Factory
This work is in reaction to the work undertaken by Peter Keetman who spent a week shooting images at the Volkswagen Factory in Wolfsburg in 1953. This project is not yet finished, but the idea is to photograph activities undertaken at Alan H. Schofield in Glossop, Derbyshire and is an extended part of my VW Community Project (ultimately Men in Sheds). Schofields stock panels for all VW vans, from 1950 to 1990 and some later models. Some panels they sell are genuine Volkswagen and many are handmade. The company was started in due to the fact that panels were no longer available for split screen vans (1950-1967) and in the 1980s Volkswagen started to withdraw their lines as new models were introduced. Alan (a panel beater and sheet metalworker by trade) started to produce panels in his garage and the rest is history. Alan retired a couple of years ago and Rick took over.
I started photographing Volkswagens around twenty years ago and had my work published in various air-cooled publications. The photographs I shot were commercial, but I have now consciously made a decision to go down the avenue of documenting what I find and broaden the images I shoot. The images are I hope a way of telling a story of the day to day workings of the business.
I first got chatting to Rick about the project earlier in the year and we have discussed at length each others obsessions with VWs, Rick's interest lies in twenty-three window buses and Porsches.
This body of work is split into four distinct areas.The first being the buses and parts that are for sale (the starting point of a project), some are rusty, some are straight, NOS or immaculate second hand West German metal and some are simply rare. From an outsiders point of view you need to be able to understand how to differentiate between a good late model T3 (T25 in the UK) panel van and a knackered Twenty Three Window Barndoor Samba. The second area is to investigate the place of production, this will look at the space/buildings, workspace and tools. The third is the products made and finally (part four) the people who work there (obviously they appear first as they are the most important).
Thank you to Rick and the people at www.alanhschofield.com or phone 01457 854267.
The starting point
The starting point for a project or that missing bit. Does your bus have ice pick handles or push buttons? How far do you restore your bus?
The place of production or the workspace. What tools are needed and how do workers utilise the space or brighten the place up?