Power and Danger
David Francis reviews Nigel Green’s Dungeness Power Station Photographs at The Printworks
Nigel Green’s photographs are every bit as quietly powerful as their subject.
Cold, bright colour images of vast cathedral spaces, utilitarian grey panels, dials, switches, arc lights, arcane inscriptions on panel steel and concrete. Now infused with our nostalgia for the aesthetics of mid-century modernist Cold War era brutalism.
Dungeness B, Charge Face
PICTURE: Nigel Green
There are no people. There is little to suggest the immense power and danger. Danger signs are superfluous in a place populated only by the unseen specialists for whom managing power and danger is work.
Only two images challenge the vast scale of the interior and exterior photographs.
One, a panel in real size and clarity that you can read the dials, like a simulator.
Another, a graphite fuel rod section, end on, resting on a bench clamp possesses complexity as to appear organic, vulnerable.
The photographs are big. They hang throughout the room from the giant steel girders. We walk between the prints. The work refuses to be ignored. It is there between us, at our sides, wherever we stand. This creates a greater intimacy, familiarity, engagement with the work than in traditional galleries.
The Printworks, an industrial setting built 100 years before the Nuclear Power Station is a perfect setting for this work. The ancient girders, rivets, deep red brickwork, take on a warmth next to the pictures, as though transformed by contrast to the quality of oak panelling. Although the room appears subdued in light the pictures appear brightly lit as though they radiate their own light.
Dungeness B, Uranium Fuel Rod Section
PICTURE: Nigel Green
About the artist
Nigel Green is a photographer, artist and lecturer. He has exhibited and published photographic projects that document genres of modernist architecture in the UK and Europe.
The Dungeness photographs were taken between 2001 and 2003 and were commissioned by Photoworks who were at that time based in Kent and had a remit to develop projects about Kent and south-east England. It was Photoworks that arranged for access to the site with British Energy.
The photographs were originally shown at the Sassoon Gallery in Folkestone before going on to be shown at Photofusion in Brixton and included the exhibition ‘Nuclear Dilemma’ at the International Museum of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland and at Gernika Peace Museum in Spain.
Nigel had unique access to the whole of the nuclear power station. The interior photographs are of Dungeness B station, the one still in operation, including the turbine hall, reactor building and charge face, prep room and cooling ponds.
New prints were produced as part of the Printworks Arts Festival 2018 that took place 15th to 19th October.
• Nigel Green is one of the photographers being published in a series of books by the new local imprint Silverhill Press. These books are also available at The Printworks.
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