A ghost of a company and a political message

Recently I went to the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham to see the truly magnificent showing of Vanley Burke's photography and the way he is living, a truly amazing exhibition which has to be seen. The show with the title 'At Home with Vanley Burke', comes true to its promise as the entire contents of Vanley's home has been temporarily moved into the modern art gallery. The exhibition is a completely different experience from other, usually sterile modern art shows and a unique opportunity for any visitor to experience how the iconic photographer lives, what inspires his photography and what he is collecting. While visiting the show you can ask the gallery's assistant to play a record from Vanley's collection, relax on Vanley's sofa with his favorite literature and, if you are lucky, even witness the legend himself walk into the show, since the gallery is now his temporary home.

Vanley Burke - 'At Home with Vanley Burke', at the Ikon Gallery, September 2015

To my surprise, I found a picture in the exhibition that Vanley had taken, which is of a spot in Digbeth I myself are particular fond of. Not only do I drive past the ghost sign of F J Thornton & Co in Digbeth on my daily commute to work, but I have repeatedly photographed it myself over the years. I was even more surprised to find that Vanley had perfectly managed to record and preserve for future generations a political message in form of a graffiti, which has long been removed from the wall, hence I never knew it had been there. Ever since I am looking at the wall with a very  different set of eyes.

F J Thornton & Co Ltd. was a Digbeth-based company producing and trading from 1944 until 1976 in scales and weighing machines. In 1976, according to Black Country History, the company became a subsidiary company of Edwin Preston Ltd.. The company ceased to exist only 5 years later.

Above is an image of the typical product produced by the company a Viking Scale, which you can be bought on ebay or etsy these days. (image sources etsy.com)

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