barbara davidson photography

Jute Mill Laborer, Kolkata, India 2017.


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Jute is a raw natural fiber manufactured in India. The first jute mill started production in Bengal, India in 1856. After 150 years of steady production, the jute industry is now challenged by competition from alternative materials, by the recession in the international markets, and by low awareness among consumers of the versatile, eco-friendly nature of jute fabric itself. Yet this industry still provides a livelihood to more than 250,000 mill workers and more than 4 million farmers’ families. It is a golden bond with the Earth, It’s use is a statement about ecological awareness as it is a fully bio-degradable and eco-friendly fiber. It comes from the earth, it helps the earth and once its life is done it merges back into the earth. Over the decades, not much has changed for workers who slave over Victorian-era machines for low wages and live in constant danger of accidents. I made this image in Kolkata in October 2017 using my Canon 5DMarkIII digital 35mm camera. I spent several days travelling across India visiting three different mills to tell a comprehensive visual story about what life is like for laborers working inside these 100-year-old factories. This photograph is offered as a signed 6” x 9” image on 8.5” x 11” archival Platine Fiber Rag Paper made on an archival ink jet printer.