Touching the Sky: Chimney-sweepers

When it gets cold in the city, the smell of stove heating is felt in the air. It is especially pleasant to sit by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. And in these moments, few people think about those who take care of stoves and fireplaces, of the state of chimneys, ventilation and pipes. Many people think that the chimney sweeper is a fairy-tale character. However, it’s not quite true.

I first met Estonian chimney sweepers in 2011. I was fortunate enough to plunge into their world, literally, with my head. Few people know so much about chimney sweepers - the features of heir work, how they spend their free time. My heroes are most often Estonian, Latvian and Finnish chimney sweepers. On occasion, I photograph German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Italian chimney sweepers. There are in my collection photos of chimney sweepers from Japan and the USA. Now I’m familiar with chimney sweepers from almost all over the world. 

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. I visited many roofs and houses, saw different pipes and chimneys, spoke with interesting people. The work of a chimney sweeper is really hard, requiring special skills and proficiency, and sometimes it even happens to be harmful and dangerous. And despite the peculiarities of this profession in different countries, all the chimney sweeps share one thing – they all have an opportunity of touching the sky. Each new day of the chimney sweep does not look like the previous one. 

There are women among the chimney sweepers. In Estonia they are few, but in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Germany female chimney sweepers work on an equal footing with men. However, they do not really like having their picture taken, meanwhile in this photo book you will find several pictures of female chimney-sweepers.

I understand now the chimney sweepers, who for health reasons can’t already work as before, and what it’s like - to miss the height, the smile of your satisfied client and the chat with him after sweeping the chimney. A chimney sweeper brings 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.

2012 - 2016