Workers (Leaving the Factory)
Davenport began making her major piece ‘Workers’ in 2004. ‘Workers’ is an evolving series of projects that reflects on the changing images and realities of industrial production. The ‘Workers’ project has been exhibited worldwide and is transformed for each new exhibition context. ‘Workers’ was displayed during the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art 2008 at the city’s Open Eye photography gallery (20 September – 30 November). The overall theme of the 2008 Biennial was ‘Made Up’ and participating international artists were invited to respond to this. ‘Workers’ was one of the key projects in the festival’s ‘International’ strand. As part of her installation, Davenport was commissioned to create a new sequence which became ‘Workers (Leaving the factory)’. This was created at the Jaguar/Land Rover car plant in Halewood, Merseyside against the background at that time of Ford’s sale of Jaguar to the Indian conglomerate Tata Motors. The new sequence focused on the Jaguar assembly line and the manufacture of a red X-Type car, and on the workers’ arrival at and departure from the plant. In response to the Biennial’s ‘Made Up’ theme, Davenport also intended through the piece to question the nature of reality, suggesting that reality itself is made up. The Walker acquired part of the installation in 2011. This incuded the central part of the installation, called ‘Workers (Leaving the factory)’. It is projected onto a single screen and concerns the journey to and departure from the factory. The ‘to’ journey sequence was made in collaboration with one of the Halewood employees and documents his commute to work, shot using a surveillance camera on his car bumper. The journey takes him into the factory itself. The sequence ends with workers leaving the factory building. The second and related element acquired by the Walker is called ‘Workers (Liverpool animation)’. It is played on six small monitor screens installed on either side of the above projection. Evoking a documentary approach, this features a ‘panning shot’ of a group of Halewood assembly line workers on their tea break, eating, drinking and reading the papers. It is an animated rendition constructed from still photographs shot at the location.