The brief was to work directly with the workforce, upstairs with the IKEA management and call centre and downstairs with the logistics run by Norbert Dentressangle. My role was to generate initiatives that could be shared by the whole workforce.
A starting point was to get them to think in terms of a portrait of their workplace. The outcome was an exhibition at Peterborough Art Gallery and a permanent display of work in the communal spaces at the distribution centre.
Traditionally the biggest employer in the region was the brick industry. This has now declined and the brickfields are mostly given over to light industrial use that includes IKEA. Although the management is from outside the region, the workforce is drawn from the immediate locality, where there are strong family ties to the brickfields. Consequently community memory became a rich area to explore.
For one project, very much in the spirit of August Sander or Irving Penn, I proposed that the team of co-workers could identify as many different roles and functions as possible in the centre, represented by identifiable individuals or groups.
These were then invited to formal portrait sessions along with some kind of evidence of their specific role. The photographs were taken by members of the team in a studio set up on site, supervised by myself and my helper, Sam Kemp.