Freitag, 17. Juni 2011
Tell me something about you . Are you professional photographer, what's your job, what are your general interests?
I'm a Film Editor by trade but took a year off to make a documentary about street art, this was around 2006/2007. That year off has turned into 4 years and it's about time I got back into work and earned some money again.
I did a foundation art coarse for a year and photography was part of the coarse and so I spent my first terms grant on a Pentax Spotmatic. I have always been interested in counter-culture and I started off photographing the punk scene here in the UK in the mid 70's. The publisher who put out Out of Sight first approached me to do a book of my Punk photographs but that will be a long project, a labour of love. General interests are Street art, graffiti, abandoned art, and anything unusual, too many to list.
How did it came up with the passion of photography in abandoned buildings ?
The Best Ever crew told me about an asylum they had heard of and as it was local to me they asked if I would go and have a look around and see if it was possible to go and paint there. As soon as I looked through the windows of this amazing location I was transfixed, I had never come across anything like it before. The colours of the decay, the wallpaper hanging off the walls, the floors giving in under the weight of the rain water, I found it quite inspiring. But I was only there for a short time when I was caught by the security. So not only where these places, in my eyes, beautiful but you also had the chance of being caught by security which made it even more exciting. You go into these places and shoot as fast as you can then move on to the next building always half expecting to feel the hand of the law on your shoulder, it's exciting.
That asylum is now being demolished and I have visited it over 40 times by now.
Best ever crew in action
Your first book "beauty in decay" just focuses on photography - no wall painting - right? How did the interest switch to wallpaintings?
No wall painting in Beauty in Decay, most urban explorers hate graffiti, especially when it's in inappropriate spots. But we don't own these places and the writers/painters have exactly the same rights as the explorers have. Which is none.
As I say, my interest started with street art and graffiti so it was a natural progression to document the art I was coming across in abandonment.
Why did you decide to make a book about these paintings in abandoned places?
Because, as far as I know, there is no other book* out there about the art in abandonment and about the artists that paint in these places. Most work you see on the streets nowadays, even the graffiti, is legal, it's important to document a new movement where all the work is illegal. Art on the streets is very much the same as advertising in a way, it's there to promote the artist or their latest show or whatever. Whereas Abandoned Art is seen by very few and seldom is signed, surely it's the purest art.
(* editor's note -the book "muralismo morte" features on about 60 pages the field of abandoned wallpainting )
Did you came in touch with artists?
If I came across a particular piece of work on the net, be it flickr or ekosystem or wherever. If I didn't know where it was I would send a pm to the artist and let them know that I would like to photograph their art. I had no idea at that time that one day I would be compiling a book, that was never the intention. When the book was all together I wrote to all the artists that were shown and asked them what these places meant to them and why did they paint there. It's very important to get their reasons for painting in these places or it would just be another book of photographs.
Did you ever meet an artists accidently while he was painting ?
There are special reasons why you made all the pictures in your book on your own? Where did you get the informations about the spots?
All the pictures are my own to keep some consistency with the shots. They are all shot full frame so I know that the quality will be perfect for the size of book we are producing. As I found out when compiling Beauty in Decay, a shot that may look great on your computer can look dreadful when it comes to enlarging it for publishing.
A lot of the pieces I just came across on my explores, others I saw on my flickr contacts sites. The book was complete at one stage but I still wasn't completely happy with it and then I happened to come across Aryz work in Barcelona and also SeaCreatives work in Milan so I flew out to both those cities just for the day and the book was complete.
ARYZ - 'Twisted'
Which countries did you explore for the book ?
All over the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy.
What do you feel if an old factory gets turned down and all the artworks inside are destroyed ?
All these abandoned places have to be demolished at some point. I do try to get back to the same spots over the years, just to see how the pieces evolve and change with the decay over time. Because of the dampness in some of these places the paint will start to flake off within weeks, other places are bone dry and will last a lot longer. But street art, graffiti, abandoned art whatever you want to call it is all ephemeral.
"As the sun rises over the last days of West Park and demolition surrounds us. A last chance to take some pictures of the best Urbex Explore (IMO) in the UK."
Did you have a special experience while exploring a space ?
Here's the story in pictures of the day my car was set on fire:
Urbex trip cut short! - This is without doubt the most expensive photograph I have ever taken. Here's the story:
I travelled by ferry early Monday morning to Calais and then drove for 3 1/2 hours to my first urbex/graffiti destination. There I dropped my 24-70mm lens breaking the lens cover and now when pulling focus the barrell jams at a particular point, but thank god, it still seems to be working. I stayed there for around 3 hours and then drove for 1 1/2 hours on to the next explore. There I parked up in the shade under some trees and entered the location to take pictures of this amazing piece by French artist Bom.k. I was there for around 1 1/2 hours and heard a small motorbike driving past several times, but thought nothing of it really. When it came time to leave, for another 3 1/2 hour drive to the Belgium border, I packed my bag and started to walk towards the car.........
Fucking Kids! - Unfortunately the people on the motorbike had broken the passenger side window and (probably) stolen the contents of the glove compartment. Wallet, Passport, CD's etc. Now I was 40 miles frrom Paris, no money, no passport, no friends in Paris, NO FUN!
I had also lost my Nikon 200mm lens, 'Beauty in Decay' 1st copy, clothes, duvee, 3 gasmasks (don't ask), glasses, the list goes on. Also I had just filled the car with petrol and spent £800 on an MOT just last week ..... and then I come back to the UK and find out that the car isn't insured abroad. It can't get any worse.
The Fire Brigade arrive. -As soon as I saw the that the car was on fire I hid in the bushes and waited, camera in hand to hopefully catch the culprits. Within minutes as I crouched down a young face came into view and only 20 feet away from where I was hiding. I couldn't take a picture as he was too close and would have heard the shutter. At this point I wish I had a Canon. (very sissy shutter, not macho like the Nikon at all;). Then a policeman came into view and at last I felt more comfortable.
Several hours later, my wife had contacted an old family friend who lived in Paris and fortunately she came out to meet me, put me up over night, lent me funds for a new emergency passport and a Eurostar ticket home that night. Thank you so much for your help Laurence, very much appreciated.
What else you like to tell about your book? Any Plans for the Future? Which countries and which abandoned places you want to explore in the future?
There isn't much call for book on abandoned art, no matter how good they may be. I'd love to do another one, I already have hundreds of unseen shots, but I'll wait and see how this one sells. It would be nice to get some money back for at least some of the gas I have used over the past 2 years, the car that was set on fire in France, the pairs of shoes I have walked the leather off, but that's not the real objective. I thoroughly enjoyed pulling this one together and hopefully it will stand the test of time, we'll see. I will travel as much as I can afford to, hopefully hit Poland and Russia one day. Well see.