Touching the Sky: Chimney Sweepers in Tatjana Lind’s Series
How many generations can a dynasty of chimney sweepers have and how do the chimney sweepers see their job — Estonian photographer Tatjana Lind travels around the world and photographs ‘black brothers and sisters’.
Photographer, was born in Moscow, now lives in Tallinn. Graduated from a Photojournalism course at the Journalism Department at Lomonosov State Moscow University (Moscow, Russia). Works on documentary projects. She participated in various photo exhibitions, won several awards and nominations.
— While working on the project on chimney sweepers, I accompanied them almost everywhere — during their work in apartment buildings and private houses, at lunches, holidays and parades, meetings and training events. The work of a chimney sweeper is really hard, requiring special skills and proficiency, and sometimes it even happens to be harmful and dangerous.
The chimney sweeps call themselves ‘black brothers and sisters’, because when they work they are really black. However, I can say with certainty that chimney sweepers are ‘white’ inside: a chimney sweeper brings a lot of positivity, warmth, and joy to every home. As they themselves say — the chimney sweeper is the closest to God; climbing the roof they touch the sky. Therefore, there is a belief that if you rub a button of a chimney sweeper, your wish will come true.
Chimney sweeper going inside a house located not far from Tallinn (Estonia).
Leo has been working as a chimney sweeper for almost half a century. Despite his age, Leo easily climbs the roof, and rejoices sincerely that he can help people. He always carries a happy button with him to give it to any passerby.
Sami works as a chimney sweeper in the town of Naantali in Finland. He was unemployed, a family friend offered him a job as a chimney sweeper for awhile. Since then, Sami has been cleaning chimneys for 22 years. He knows all the town residents by name. Cleaning chimneys in the old houses, Sami proudly tells us that two hundred years ago his predecessor did it and all these old fireplaces are still working. Sami considers himself a very happy person: being two meters tall he can easily reach the sky while working on the roof.
When Janne was a kid, his father used to take him to work. Janne first went to study engineering, then he wanted to become an entrepreneur. In the end, he still chose the profession of a chimney sweeper. Janne is a typical Finnish chimney sweeper, a bit brooding and silent and, at the same time, open and always helpful.
Hillimar is an Estonian. He has been working as a chimney sweeper for more than 7 years. Hillimar is a chimney sweeper of some unusual appearance: he has an interesting profile, thin, works very quickly and deftly.
The tool of chimney sweepers.
It all began in 2011 when I met Estonian chimney sweepers, then my heroes became Latvian and Finnish chimney sweepers. I photographed German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, and Italian chimney sweepers. They are in my collection photos of chimney sweepers from Japan and the USA.