being butcher


A photo-driven design project, investigating Smithfield Meat Market.

Smithfield Meat Market was the location of choice for myself and a fellow design colleague; by interviewing and (attempting to) photograph and film at the market we tried to infiltrate this environment. However, the somewhat closed off nature of the market presented us with difficulties; no filming or photography, obscure opening hours (2am-8am) and distant, almost censored interviews. In BBC documentary “The Meat Market Inside Smithfield” it’s said that the main demographic of the staff is generally white, British, middle-aged and male, the community being a haven away from political correctness. We were further told by one butcher that what is said “in the front” is not what is said “in the back”. Clearly there was some kind of duality going on, and we wanted to know more. In result, we needed to find a way to get into the market.


By taking the theatrical elements about the market we had initially observed, we went about this infiltration Louis Theroux-style in “My Scientology Movie”; Theroux, unable to enter The Church of Scientology to make a documentary, decides to cast his own actors that act as notable figures from the church to recreate famous events. Putting out a casting call to find budding actors, we scripted an interview from our initial research trip and held a small workshop for actors to design their own butcher character and perform, in a small set-up, in front of the camera.


Some of the butcher characters that were designed after we held a workshop for a group of actors/performers.


Taking one actor along with us the following morning, we presented our films back to the butchers at the market. In doing so, we managed to infiltrate the market in a way we were unable to before. Offers to come round the back to show us how to properly cut meat and act like a butcher arose and engaging conversations (and more crude language) cropped up. This was a perfect experiment in infiltration of an environment and topic, providing me with the ideal next steps for building my conspiracy to probe it further in order to infiltrate and uncover the truth about why we’re living so long, unveiling alternative motives for our extended lifespan. 


Receiving feedback from Smithfield butchers.