The proper name for the area is Royal Arsenal, Woolwich and was originally known as the Woolwich Warren. It was where armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces was carried out.
The Warren in Tower Place was established as an Ordnance Storage Depot in 1671. An ammunition laboratory (the Royal Laboratory) was added in 1695, and a gun foundry (the Royal Brass Foundry) was established in 1717. In 1805, it became known as the Royal Arsenal. The Woolwich Royal Ordnance Factories closed in 1967.
Like much of the East End, parts of the Royal Arsenal has been redeveloped and used to build residential and commercial buildings.
Part of the redevelopment has included some statues of Iron Men, situated near the old warehouses near the River Thames. When I first saw them a few months ago, I was taken by them. They almost seem like an attempt to solidify the fluid human existence and form.
In an area that manufactured munitions for war, the status reminded me of how fragile humans can be, but how humanity tries to protect itself from death, destruction and erosion.
I was debating between whether to photograph in colour or b&w. Both would give a very different feel to the photo. The statues are very textured, as are the buildings (both historical and new build) in the area. The area is steeped in military history, and you can feel that.
In the end, I chose to shoot with Ilford Pan F 50 film. I wanted to use a slow film to capture the texture of the sculptured Iron, which was beginning to be weathered by the elements.
I am very pleased with the results, and am sure I will revisit the Iron Men again at some point. The images captured an aspect of humanity that we sometimes miss.