Behind every monument, there’s someone mopping its floors. That’s the focus of Australian photographer Greg Briggs’s series Melbourne Cleaners. Each wide-format image captures a grandiose setting, such as Queen’s Hall in Parliament House or the Melbourne Museum, and features one solitary character buffing the floors or cleaning up dust.
To capture these unsung caretakers on camera, Briggs got after-hours access to some of Melbourne’s most prestigious landmarks, and spent six months shooting. Briggs’s subjects include the Neo-Gothic St. Paul’s Cathedral, built in the 1880s, and the National Gallery of Victoria, founded in 1861 and Australia’s oldest art museum.
When similarly populist, high-traffic venues empty out, they often attract the attentions of photographers: Parisian swimming pools, libraries, and space stations have all been fodder for books and photo series.
But unlike some of the other architectural series, Briggs’s work veers away from showing just the stunning grandeur. He’s interested in what’s behind the scenes. The reason we can marvel at the gleaming buildings and immaculately preserved works of art on display? The people who carefully clean them.