If you can piss...

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My day job on building sites often results in frustration as it necessarily leads to compromises in the time I am able to spend on my photographic projects. I have tried to resolve this conflict by recognising the unique opportunity it offers me to record my working environment and those I share it with. I wanted to document the world that I had become part of, the shared experience of our working lives, including as it does the complex nature of identity, camaraderie and class. 

 

Carrying a small pocket camera with me throughout the day, my on-site photography has involved capturing moments of that are easily forgotten when a job is completed, and the builders have left.  Being a full-time decorator, I have established strong working partnerships and friendships over many years, and enjoyed the insights which have been gained from working closely with those from differing ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. 

The title of this series is from the regular on-site derision, "If you can piss, you can paint", typical of the microcosmic hierarchies found on any building job, as well as its universal camaraderie.

 

The images in this series reflect my  experience of the physical labour, friendships, stresses, and moments of levity. Significantly the images are produced from a position of mutual trust and understanding, rather than one of dispassionate observer. Together, they document an often overlooked (and misrepresented) arena of working class culture within contemporary society. This body of work also intersects with wider issues such as the shifting nature of identity, economic migration, and the increasing hostility of the city's living costs to the working class whose labour is essential to its operation. 

 © 2019 by David O'Mara

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