Barry Cawston explains the story behind ‘The Coat Napoli’

‘Coat Napoli’ was taken during a week spent photographing an old Palazza in Fisciano near Napoli.
Forty years before the house had been left empty by a family of coat makers when they moved to Naples.  The family gave me permission to photograph the interior before it was converted into an arts centre, but only if I would also take a picture of one of their coats in the space.

This beautiful coat was made from the finest leather I’ve ever felt.  Not wanting to use a model I walked every room in the house searching for a way to photograph it.

One of the rooms had an old chandelier chain which I used as a hanger.  The coat however looked heavy and bleak, far from the impression I was trying to give.  I was using a bellows plate camera, so I swiveled the focal plains and with a change of focus the coat seemed to magically float in the room. It was as though it was lifted from the floor which added a surreal quality.

The family asked me to do a 5ft 4ft print and much to my pleasure they hung it in their shop window in Napoli…’