Disrepair

Urban exploration (often shortened as UE, urbex and sometimes known as roof-and-tunnel hacking) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment.”


Call it what you want, I just really like abandoned spaces. Derelict, textural, decay. The thrill of finding something, and setting out to seek it in the first place. It’s Monday, the day before my Son’s seventh birthday, I crammed my morning with last minute birthday planning and just felt the itch of getting out with the camera for a few hours before the school pickup. Feeling kind of on edge due to the time restraint, and realising i needed to fill the car with petrol, I knew I couldn’t go too far… I remembered a site I’d tried finding earlier in the year; a failed attempt, on a much colder day than today. I was excited to catch some of this newly restored autumn sunlight, and had done my research this time (looked at a satellite view of the landscape on Google Earth - and I was sure I knew where to go).

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I met a dead-end fairly early on. Although autumn has begun, the heathers and deep undergrowth created too much of a barrier for me to pass, I carried on (in the hope it would ease up) and found a clearing. A twenty minute walk in, and I started to spot some vehicle remains, and I knew I was on the right track. Piles of tyres of all sizes randomly piled in the woodlands, the shine of metal glistening in the distance, and cars of all ages, in pieces were just dotted around, sunken into the mud. Nature has well and truly taken over the entire site, I’m not sure exactly how long the yard and adjoining house has been disused, but there was a decaying calendar in one room with 1995 still poignantly hanging strong. I was drawn to the abandoned house, an eerie spectacle of urbex is the loss of human life, no one ever really knows what’s gone by, and in the current state, all you can think of is sadness… Whereas, a lot of the time, these places were probably happy homes. I found children’s toys, a miniature racing car wheelie, a bicycle, all scattered amongst the debris. There’s the unspoken urban explorer rule - “Do not touch”, and I’m not an idiot. I didn’t climb around in the house too much, the ceiling was caving in, and there wasn’t much left of the roof, but odd materials, leaving an outline of what would have been.

The mix of time is what interests me most, there are vans and vehicles pre-1960, with hand painted lettering, and vintage colours rusting away. The buses were an exciting addition, I’d seen a photograph from another explorer online, and really hoped to find it. I was almost ready to head home, I’d been out nearly 2 hours and captured enought, but I kept finding myself venturing further and further into the woods, finding more and more, when I found the bus I wanted. I climbed on board, stepping on metal structures, as the rest (for the most part) was clearly going to cave in.

My images and coinciding video story, all show the sense of colour I focussed on during the trip. The brightness blooms against the dreary woodland setting. A bright yellow race-car, pops right out of a fallen-in garage, while a red Royal Navy truck peeks from behind a wall. Looking into the front cab of a removal lorry, I was surprised by a pastel blue interior, with contrasting green seats (I couldn’t dream this stuff sometimes). And all of which is farily pinned down with the growth of branches, like strong cables- undergrowth gone wild, and a battle that nature is very much winning.

All the enclosed stills, and video was shot on the XT-3, my first real test with the kit. And my first time in quite a long while where I’ve solely focussed on one camera (other than a bag of formats!). The kit is so lightweight, it was effortless transporting around the space, where at times I was on my hands and knees. I shot freely, without a tripod for the entirety. I used the kit lens for the story, and where I’d love to add extra depth on some of the ECU shots, I didn’t feel I was massively lacking for what was mainly a trek in the woods, with no real agenda.