Seldom Seen #6: Woodville Airms

The Woodville Airms in Ibrox

This photograph shows the Woodville Airms bar, as well as the now unoccupied high rise flats on Summertown Road/Broomloan Road in Ibrox, Glasgow. The area itself is situated very close to Ibrox Stadium and borders with the Govan area of Glasgow and has a history of sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics as well as other social problems, partly due to the decline in shipbuilding on the Clyde. The area is close to the now mostly derelict Govan shipyards, and there are several run down industrial buildings near by. Until recently the area had several more high rise flats, as well as sprawling estates of semi-detached social housing. However, three of the existing high rise flats in the area (one of which my uncle used to live in) have already been demolished, and the remaining three are currently in the process of being torn down.

The bar in the picture, previously known as the Albion Bar, is somewhat notorious for being a pub used by Rangers fans, given its close proximity to the stadium. The bar closed around the same time as the flats were vacated, and has been disused since. Although I haven’t personally been inside there are several entrances into the building which can be seen from the street, so I imagine the building is being used by some people, although for which purpose I’m not sure.

The reason I chose this photograph for the exhibition is that unlike the others this is a site which the local council and others are paying attention to. In general the area is a good example of what can be achieved through new developments of old urban environments which run counter to overcoming social problems as well as how the refurbishment of old buildings, which are often architecturally important in their own right, can be used by the community, instead of being left to decay.

Several new social housing developments have now been completed in the area as part of a wider programme of urban regeneration by Glasgow City Council, The Scottish Government and several other local councils acting together as the Clyde Waterfront Partnership. Several other community projects are ongoing as part oft his regeneration and already there seem to be some positive impacts, with several community run arts projects and social enterprise projects showing success. One example is the old Govan Town Hall, not far from where this picture was taken, which is now being occupied by creative organisations such as the Glasgow Film City, a centre for community media production and training.

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 #2: Wee Rabbit

Wee Rabbit

This picture shows a small stuffed toy rabbit that I found while exploring an old car mechanics on Ardgowan Street in Port Glasgow. The buildings, which were only recently abandoned and have since been demolished due to a fire which occurred shortly after the premises being vacated, sat on a much larger site of empty wasteland, and were the last buildings which remained on the site. The site contained some fairly juvenile graffiti, nowhere near the standard that I’ve found at other sites such as Polphail, and was strewn with wrecked furniture, old oil drums and piles of old burned tyres and various pieces of car. You could still smell the smoke from the fire several years previous inside the buildings.

The reason I chose this picture is that for me it leaves more questions than it answers. Whereas the old tyres and bits of car immediately inform you that the old building was one a mechanics, the little rabbit leaves you wondering how it got to be in such an inherently adult and traditionally masculine environment, far removed from the type of place you might expect a child to play and accidentally leave behind its toy.

Maybe it was left behind by one of the people who used to work here, a present given to a mother or father from their child to take to work and remember them by. Or perhaps it accidentally found its way into a bag or a pocket in the morning rush to get everyone to work, school or nursery. Or, maybe I’m wrong, maybe it was left here by a child. After all, children can be adventurous and inquisitive, and may well have decide to explore that building which they could never previously access but which now lay wide open in its abandoned state. If I’m honest, it’s probably a bit of that childish curiosity that brings me to explore these places.

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