PAC Exhibition Celebrates Art in Unexpected Places
American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emmerson once said: “Every wall is a door” suggesting that opportunity arrives when you least expect it.
This is the inspiration behind the creative work of three local photographers who have spent the last decade exploring urban locations, either abandoned and decayed, or bustling with human activity.
Over the years Steven Parker, James Drury and Roger Pate have learnt that these places create opportunities for talented street artists to use as a canvas on which to showcase their ideas, concepts and creativity which enhances the space, something which they want to highlight and celebrate through their work.
A collection of their photographs taken both in the UK and overseas, including Chernobyl, doing just that is being exhibited in the first floor space at Pocklington Arts Centre.
In the collection of prints and original art, entitled Every Wall Is Adored, the trio hope to highlight the relationship between art and the context in which it exists; That graffiti is not a destructive occupation but an enhancement of the mundane situation that surrounds us. That art can live in unexpected places.
James, who is based in York and whose love of photography began when he was gifted a Russian Zenit 35mm camera for his 9th birthday, explained the appeal of photographing abandoned buildings.
“Exploring and photographing abandoned buildings is utterly fascinating. The buildings themselves often reclaimed by nature and sometimes fragments of their past use still exist, giving you an insight into the people that worked or lived there. “We started to come across urban art in many of these former industrial sites in and around Sheffield. They had a profound effect on me. Who were these artists and why go to so much effort to create contextual art that very few people would see before the buildings were demolished or simply collapsed?” he said.
Chernobyl, and the nearby town of Pripyat, has been James’s favourite location to photograph so far.
“It was an overwhelming experience. The scale of the abandonment and the sheer volume of personal affects left behind. Decaying buildings for miles in every direction, all of them reclaimed by nature to varying degrees but each with a human story to tell,” he added.
Steven, of North Duffield, who has been taking photos for 40 years, was also captivated by Chernobyl amongst other travel destinations.
“I love capturing the beauty in decay and discovering urban artists working in these environments added an extra dimension to what could be achieved pictorially,” Steven said.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel a fair bit and capture some amazing places. Reykjavik has some great street art and Kyiv is a beautiful city with stunning murals, but I have to say Chernobyl was utterly unique and so poignant,” he added.
Roger, of Pocklington, began experimenting with darkroom black and white photography in college in the late 80’s, but it wasn’t until 2004 that his interest was spurred on by his first digital camera.
His top locations to date include an abandoned hotel in Sheffield which he has described as “a gallery of urban art”, and Derby Hospital which he said was “the eeriest place” likening its long empty corridors to being in the film 28 Days Later.
Roger loves the way urban art often compliments its location and the how abandoned buildings can become time capsules.
Roger said: “We started exploring abandoned places around Sheffield, mostly businesses that seemed to have gone bust overnight and some places were like the Mare Celeste. Unwashed coffee cups on worktops gathering dust, tools that seemed to have been pout down in an instant, as employees were just asked to leave, like a fire drill. I guess it’s a sense of discovery and a sadness about human activity long gone. A time capsule of when it was a bustling hive. We literally stumbled across the urban art. In Sheffield, many locations were used by a small circle of artists to either practice their art or just use the undisturbed space to work. Their subject matter often compliments the location. An artists called Phlegm would create these mythical creatures, using the structural surrounding as part of the picture – drainpipes would become spears, using a darkened doorway to lean against.”
“Again, it leads to a sense of human activity that has long gone.”
The exhibition runs until Tuesday 30 November. The photographers will hold a Meet The Artist social event on the first floor at PAC on Friday 22 October, 7pm-9pm. The bar will be open and all are welcome. Entry to the exhibition is free, during opening hours only.
For PAC’s opening hours or further information about the exhibition visit www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01759 301547.