A year later, for my ‘Concepts and Themes’ project, I worked with artwork in the Southampton City Art Gallery archive. The particular work I chose to work with was “A Sad Case Before The Bench”, Thomas Protheroe, 1891. The painting shows a cobbler standing behind a bench surrounding by tools, with a pair of broken shoes in his hand. Using this painting as my initial reference, I chose to explore the part of the city in which I was living at the time, the streets around the area called Bedford Place. Southampton is an old city, with many features still intact from hundreds of years ago, but very little trade in the city has survived that long. I was keen to see what, if any, interesting shops and traders held their ground, and soon after my initial foray into the city’s past, I came across one of the oldest shops in all of Southampton, French’s Shoemakers. This shop had been passed down through nine generations of the same family and was an exceptionally beautiful one, with many old features, both inside and out. However, after some initial shoots inside the shop, influenced by John Londei’s book Shutting Up Shop, I realised I was more interested in the parts that most customers would never get to see, like the workshop. After speaking to the manager and the technicians in the workshop I was even more intrigued. The manager himself had been a technician when he first started, and some of the employees had been there over 30 years. I started photographing the longstanding employees but found my real interest was in the tools that littered the workshop benches. Models of machines and hand tools that had not changed in 75-80 years were still in use at French’s. My final edit was a series of four black and white medium format 6×6 images of the old workshop tools and machinery. I printed these to 39cm x 39cm, hand printed and mounted on Dibond, and they were displayed in the Southampton City Art Gallery in that year.