Tannery: Pictures by Paul Glendell

Laura White
Laura White

With more than twenty five years as a professional photographer Paul’s photos have appeared in several of the worlds’ leading publications including Time, Nature and Life magazines. In the UK he undertakes commissions for charities such as the Woodland Trust and the Westcountry Rivers Trust.

Paul photographs and produces audio slideshows for the BBC News website. He also regularly undertakes shoots for the photo agency United National Photographers for both consumer magazines and corporate clients and undertakes commissions for a variety of magazines and charities.

His award-winning work documents environmental issues and disappearing cultural history, gaining an ‘award of excellence’ in the USA ‘Pictures of the Year’ competition in 1996, and nominated in the UNESCO ‘Humanity Photo Awards’ in 2002 and 2014 for his reportage of rural life in Romania.

His latest project is a photo documentary about tanning in the traditional style, carried out in Colyton, Devon.

The tannery, the last to use oak bark in the UK, has been processing leather in this traditional way for centuries on the same site, and this slow, messy and painstaking but ultimately rewarding method of production results in a fine, top quality leather which is favoured by distinguished shoemakers and top stables for its quality, durability and finish.

“I spent five days photographing around the tannery over a period of two months with free access to the site. I wanted to show the care taken and the effort made to produce such high quality leather, and to document a working practice that has changed so little over time. In our race for the new and latest ‘must have’ I feel we lose our understanding and forget the need to sometimes wait for quality to be created. Much of the work at the tannery is physically hard and I have tried to portray that and capture the feeling of being in this unique place.”

Paul’s photography projects include travels around Britain, Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania and Israel and have been exhibited in Britain, France, China, Slovakia and Hungary.