My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

The old mine in Blötberget

Apologies for being silent but I have had a period full of work and I am also taking a photo course which means that I got homework to do every week. This series are from last week’s assignment. The theme was not very encouraging: “The morbid, the macabre, your dark sides”. I would lie to you if I say that I felt happy about it, simply because these sides are not particularly dominant in my personality.

Anyway, giving up was not an option in this case but I had to find something to take pictures of that could convey “something dark” but I also wanted something I knew I could do with a convincing result. Maybe I should forget about photography after all…

H**l no! The solution came while spending the weekend in my country home. It lies in a part of Sweden that has lots of minerals and ore, but the mines closed during the 70’s when the world market prices fell. Most of them are left and abandoned as they were; time has taken care of the rest. This would definitely give the expression I wanted in the pictures.

My grandfather was a mining engineer and I regard abandoned mines as “living dead” because of that. I decided to sort of close the circle by driving to Blötberget which was the last minefield he worked at before he retired. The mine closed in 1979 and most of it was still standing so the prospects to get pictures I could use were fairly good, even though I knew that the premises are fenced. Something told me I could work something out without breaking the law.

There are a number of garages and workshops on the premises now and I didn’t expect anyone to be there on a Saturday afternoon but I was wrong. There were people working there and one of them spotted me taking pictures and he asked if I wanted to come in and opened the gate. If only he had known…

I was free to walk about with the camera as I pleased and I did, but there is also a 36 exposure limit per picture we want to show and we are expected to bring two pictures each week and I think it’s a good thing.

There has been mines here since the 17th century, but the ore from Blötberget had high content of phosphorus which made the iron brittle and there has therefore been times when mining has been prohibited by the authorities. The invention of the Thomas process in 1879 solved that problem and made a full scale mining plant a possibility. The buildings on these images are from 1949 and were in use for 30 years before the era came to an end.

Today’s high prices on metals and minerals has made mining feasible again and I have read in the local papers that the mine in Blötberget will open again and so will the adjacent mines in Håksberg and Grängesberg. If everything goes according to plans, there will be activity here in 2014 and full activity in 2015. Indeed I documented something dark and spooky, but also a period in the history of this mine. I wish I could get the opportunity to come back here a couple of years from now and take a load of shots of the mine when in full use.

 

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5 responses

  1. i am most impressed with this series. 😉
    it really tells the story, i think.
    k☼

    08/04/2011 at 02:18

  2. tms

    Great story! I particularly like the first rwo and the one-but-last pictures. They are quite refined in their (apparent) simplicity, and thus all the more intense. Tobias

    08/04/2011 at 15:09

  3. Staffan H

    silverylizard: Thanks a million! 🙂

    tms: Thank you! I brought the first two with me to the class and I’m glad I did.

    08/04/2011 at 23:04

  4. Wow Staffan, what a great series of photographs and the narration suits them well. I like them all, but my favorite is the one with selective coloring of the reflections in one window.

    09/04/2011 at 03:03

  5. Staffan H

    Lynn: Thank you so much for your kind words.

    09/04/2011 at 22:55

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