Abandoned mill photos

Abandoned mill photo

A haunting photo series blends together documentary photographs of children working in textile mills in the 1920s with pictures of the same mills, now abandoned in 2014.

This thought-provoking series by artist Tammy Cantrell, 55, merges almost an entire century into single image.

The pictures offer the viewer a glimpse at what life was like in the mills before they were left to ruin.

The captivating images allow the ghosts of children who worked in the mills to peer through the years and tell of the harsh conditions they worked in.

Mrs Cantrell says her series, entitled Not An Exit, highlights the terrible conditions that children worked in textile mills in Gaston County, North Carolina, USA, during the 1920s.

She said: “A lot of children today leave our schools and have no idea what children went though less than 100 years ago.

“I think we need to know the truth about history so we don’t repeat it. I hope that by putting the old pictures of children in a modern setting people of today will be able to empathise with them.”

During the 1920s North Carolina was the world’s leading provider of textiles. Children working in the mills were often injured by complex machinery – their feet crushed and fingers chopped off in the same rusting machines which feature in Mrs Cantrell’s pictures.

Mrs Cantrell, of Gastonia, said: “I wanted to give these children a voice through this series so I went through more than 5,000 photographs to choose the ones I wanted.

“It was a very emotional experience, I have children and grandchildren so it was tough to think about what it would have been like to see these young children dying in factories.

“Some mothers lost all four children in the mills – I can’t imagine the pain of losing even one.”

Mrs Cantrell created the captivating images by merging her pictures of the abandoned mills with photographs taken by documentary photographer Lewis Hine.

Mr Hine’s intimate photographs were instrumental in changing US child labour laws.

Mrs Cantrell said: “Lewis Hine was a very brave man who took pictures of the horrific things which some people wanted to hide.

“When I was putting this series together I originally only had my pictures of the abandoned mills.

“After I saw Lewis Hine’s pictures I knew I had to include them – I kept dreaming about the children in the pictures.”

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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