Swindon, the town often cited as the most accurate benchmark of the UK economy, comes under the spotlight for a week from 20 to 26 May when workers at one hundred of its firms feature in an art show celebrating its enterprise and trade.
Photographer Nigel Hudson and artist Timothy Cumming, above at the Swindon Link office, have visualised the effort, determination and trade of 100 local businesses in this town in a display of photographs and digital paintings called Working Beautifully
Swindon host the UK’s fourth most productive and fourth largest growth economy outside London. "To us, it seems that the full British economic story needs a fuller telling," says Hudson.
"Slowly, the country’s on the rise, though media attention sometimes obsesses over the bad news, missing the good. So we wanted to provide a little balance – to picture the potential of the nation through skills, hard work and trade, because they’re the tools of our recovery. Swindon has a trading history within the UK, which to us, mirrors the UK’s trading history with the world."
"Swindon trade is the perfect small-scale model of UK-international trade, complete with all its regional relationships and entrepreneurial spirit,” says Cumming.
“Each of the 100 firms we’ve selected has shown the grit and guts necessary to thrive, even in a tricky economic climate. Worries about a triple-dip recession simply do not match the attitude or prosperity that we witness in these firms.”
Working Beautifully features over six hundred original digital paintings and photographic composites created by Hudson and Cumming over the last twelve months. The images take a glimpse behind the scenes of the some of the South West’s largest and smallest firms. Subjects range from the small – The Sewing Shop, Hatch Engineering and the Magic Kebab House, through to the large – technicians, administrators, managers and support staff of BMW, Nokia Siemens, Intel and Nationwide for example.
Rob Angus, Head of Group Strategy & Planning at Nationwide Building Society, said: "Nationwide has a long-term relationship with Swindon and it is fitting that we took part in the creation of a tapestry which celebrates the town’s strong links with industry and commerce. The area has been the beating heart of Nationwide for many years and will continue to be our headquarters as we continue to grow as a business."
"The vitality of UK firms is championed by Swindon", says local MP Justin Tomlinson: the town has the highest Gross Value Added (GVA) per head in the South West, and the fourth highest GVA per hour in the UK, proving an impressive level of workforce productivity*. It’s also one of the UK’s most steadily growing local economies, and has a £350m new Central Business District under construction.
All one hundred firms are featured on a 25 metre ‘tapestry’ created especially for this landmark show. One painting by Cumming and one photographic composite by Hudson will represent each firm. The artists and representatives of the firms will present the ‘tapestry’ to Swindon Borough Council after the show.
* According to the Work Foundation