Ian Macdonald, Photographer

Ian Macdonald









The Blast Furnace

PRESS RELEASE 8 November 2010

Ian Macdonald is an internationally acclaimed documentary photographer based in the North East of England. He has photographed the people and places of Teesside for the past 40 years. His love of the region, the beauty of the landscape - great expanses of wildness nestling alongside some of Europe's most heavily industrialised areas - and his stolid admiration for the people working and living amongst this environment has resulted in the most honest and passionate depiction of a place that he continues to record today.

Much of the cultural heritage in Teesside has been built on over 160 years of iron making in blast furnaces. In the 1880s there were as many as 166 furnaces operating in the region. The economic downturn has hit Middlesbrough hard. The shut down of Redcar Blast Furnace earlier this year (2010) has resulted not only in many job losses throughout the region, but has left its people once again facing a future where hope seems impossible.

Blast Furnace by Ian MacdonaldIn this new book, The Blast Furnace, Macdonald explores, through his extensive archive of photographs, the landscape the Blast Furnace stands in and touches on the process of making iron. Essentially, however, the book is a testament to the photographer's passion for creating images of people in their working environment. Macdonald's unparalleled access to the furnace offers a unique record of the industry. Extraordinary images from within the working blast furnace are interlaced with portraits of the men. A sense of hard work, pride and a nobility of spirit may be seen in each of the large-format plate camera studies of the workers. The book concludes with the current situation of the Blast Furnace - that it may be re-opened, once again making the finest iron in the world, supplying raw materials to the sustainable energy industry.

In 2007 Ian Macdonald published the book Eton, (ISBN 978 1 870434 29 4), a book documenting his year-long stay as artist in residence at Eton College, Windsor. In the accompanying essay, Old Etonian Ed. Dimsdale, described Eton as "another kind of blast furnace".

Macdonald's work is held in many public and private collections of photographs including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Danish Royal Library, the Navigator Foundation, Boston Ma., and MIMA.

The first printing of the book is limited to 1000 copies. Ten of the books will be available accompanied by a limited edition print of one of the photographs from the book, hand printed by the artist on fibre based paper, titled, signed and numbered and presented in a hand made slip case.

Published by Ian Macdonald
64 pages 30 cm X 24.5 cm
Hard cover
ISBN: 978 1 870434 24 2
Publication date: November 2010.
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Throughout 2006-2007 Ian lived as part of the Eton College community as artist-in-residence, teaching and making a photographic response to that environment. The book "Eton" represents his personal reflections to his time there.

Eton dustjacket by Ian MacdonaldThe book contains 48 duotone black and white photographs with a text by Edward Dimsdale, himself a photographic Old Etonian and writer on the aesthetics of photography. The book is hard bound with a dust jacket, is 64 pages long and measures 300mmx245mm.
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From the dustjacket.
"Eton has been photgraphed many times. More often than not, however, the perspective has been 'outside-in', whether the welcome visits by some of the greatest names in the history of the medium - Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Henri Cartier-Bresson, to name but two - or rather the less welcome intrusions of the paparazzi. Paradoxically representing both inside and outside at one and the same time, this book has, in fact, far greater ambition than any of the more usual approaches."   Ed Dimsdale

A limited edition gelatin-silver print is available, processed to full archival standards, to accompany 100 of the books each being contained in an envelope, book, envelope and print being housed in a hand made slip case.
Please contact for prices.

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Smith's Dock Shipbuilders

Smith's Dock Shipbuilders front cover by Ian MacdonaldThis book details the final months of the last working shipyard on the river Tees at South Bank near Middlesbrough. Though predominantly a visual book its compelling text arises from taped interviews made by the artists from a wide selection of the workforce. Plans, maps and old photographs make up the rest of the body of the book.

Images of the Tees

Images of the Tees front coverThis is a much more visual and reflective book and is essentially a statement about the river Tees estuary, much altered even in the lifetimes of the artists and is about how man has increasingly come to dominate his environment.

The books 'Smith's Dock Shipbuilders' and 'Images of the Tees' are both artists' collaborations between photographer, Ian Macdonald and painter, Len Tabner.

Blast Furnace

Blast Furnace by Ian MacdonaldLong out of print, Blast Furnace is a booklet published to celebrate the 1986 exhibition 'Blast Furnace' itself being part of 'Industrial Heritage Year' at the Photographers' Gallery in London.

England Gone

Images of the Tees front coverA Creative Camera Monograph 3/1989 compiled by Peter Turner and Ian Macdonald uses photographs, drawings and poems by Phillip Larkin as a reflection of Ian's sense of loss experienced throughout his lifetime of some of our finest natural environments and also a certain sense of community.

Selected Other Publications Containing Ian Macdonald's Work

1. Ian's work is featured in several Creative Camera publications, including the International Year Book 1977, and the Magazines in 1980, 1986 and 1987 and the monograph 1989.

2. In the 'Art of Photography', a publication by Yale University Press (ed Mike Weaver) about the 150 year history of photography staged by the Royal Academy in 1989.

3. In 'Life' magazine 'World's Best Photographs' 1980-1990.

4. In the 'Independent' magazine 7 June 1989, an article entitled 'Man-Made Wilderness'.

5. A book jacket cover from 'Boom Boom Cluster' the David and Lisa Brown Bequest for Southampton City Art Gallery 2004.