Reflections of decay

Reflection W

 

A nice shot of reflections in St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, Dunbartonshire. This is the second time I’ve explored this old building. Both times there have been other people there exploring as well, I think despite being abandoned it is one of the main attractions (for people like me, anyway) in Cardross. It truly is a stunning building. There’s talk of restoring it to the way it once was, maybe it might see use again. Until then it’s one of the my favourite abandoned places in the area.

Seldom Seen #3: Howden’s Works

Spray Can

This photograph shows a discarded spray paint can in the now abandoned James Howden & Co Engineering Works on Scotland Street in Tradeston, Glasgow. James Howden (1832-1913) was a Scottish engineer and inventor noted for his invention of boilers for use in the marine engineering industry, as well as developing engines which were used in British navy vessels to outrun German U-boats. The building was his first factory, which he occupied from 1863. Howden’s is still a major international engineering company, and when James Howden died in 1913 he was the last surviving founding member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, founded in 1857.

The building is listed, but like many of the structures in the Tradeston district of Glasgow is now completely abandoned and falling into disrepair. Despite this the site is used by several graffiti artists and boasts some fairly impressive pieces of work all around the huge site. In addition, some of the office block areas on the site are used by the homeless.

I chose this photograph because of the sheer size of the site as well as its high visibility from trains leaving Glasgow Central train station heading South, being seen by hundreds of people every day. Despite it’s owners contribution to Scottish engineering and the sites involvement in Glasgow’s industrial shipbuilding history, the building has become part of the backdrop of wider urban decay in Glasgow, and is likely to be left to fall apart or be redeveloped, its legacy forgotten.

This limited edition one-off A2 framed print is available to buy for £100 ono. Please get in touch if interested – 07757897097 or hello@kieranhamilton.org

Seldom Seen #1: Polphail

Grafitti on one of the buildings in Polphail 'Ghost Village'

This photograph shows part of of one of the main buildings in the abandoned village of Polphail, often described as a ‘ghost village’, which is situated in contrast to the rolling hills and stunning lochs near Portavadie in Argyll, Scotland. The term abandoned might not be the best way to describe the village of Polphail, since it has never actually been lived in.

Polphail was originally built in the late 1970’s to house around 500 workers who were scheduled to build oil platforms off the Argyll coast, however construction never started due to the type of oil platform which was to be constructed becoming defunct, and so Polphail was left unoccupied. The village comprises several dorms, basements for boilers and electrical equipment to run the site, a laundrette, several bars and a large industrial kitchen. It even has large halls, which presumably would have been used for discos and events, had they ever been used at all.

The village itself has an eerie, empty, atmosphere. I’ve visited several abandoned places, and always find myself imaging the people that would have inhabited the space. The eerie thing about Polphail is that every time I tried to do just that, I was instantly reminded of the fact that no one had ever inhabited the space. This very fact itself gives Polphail its unique and oddly unsettling atmosphere.

However, despite never having been officially lived in, there are some signs of life; used cooking pots, clothing, a rusty old bike, and the most notable sign that that the site has not been left alone all these years: the vast amount of graffiti. Some of this graffiti is the standard sort of stuff seen scrawled on bathroom walls, but some of the graffiti is of a much higher standard. The more memorable artwork is that left behind by collective of artists know as the Agents of Change, who were granted permission to use the site as a makeshift graffiti gallery. More information about the AoC ‘Ghost Village Project’ and a documentary detailing the event with interviews of the artists here. And as a bonus, if you would like to see another video of our (at times slightly comical, given my shoddy narration) exploration of the village put together by my girlfriend Jennifer it can be viewed here. The video documents our journey there, and gives a look at quite a lot of the site, and in my opinion conveys some of the empty, eerie atmosphere I talked about earlier.

The hand in the image is one of the pieces of art left behind Agents of Change, and one of my favourite pieces on the site. The structure on which the graffiti is placed i the highest on the site and contains a stairwell between the dorms. The reason I chose this picture is that the hand reaching up towards the top of the tower, with its crumbling brick work, for me perfectly conveys the sense of wanting to allow the place to remain and find a purpose, despite its decaying state. At the same time a trick of the light through the camera lens makes it seem like the colours are trying to escape off of the surface structure, almost as if conscious of its finite existence, a metaphor for the way in which the artwork will live on not just through the photographs I have taken, but through the hundreds of photographs and videos which others have taken of the site which can be found on line and on YouTube.

After several offers to buy the land the site has finally been purchased and will be demolished and subsequently developed in the coming years, with rumours of a housing development, micro distillery and even a visitors centre planned for the site. More info from the local press here.

This limited edition one-off framed 70x50cm print is available to buy for £250 ono. Please get in touch if interested – 07577897097 or hello@kieranhamilton.org