This week a unique photography exhibition opened in York. Urban Canvas displays work by local photographers who have captured graphic art created in abandoned buildings. Steven Parker explains more
Our initial fascination was with exploring abandoned buildings to discover both the objects left behind and the dramatic effect of time’s creative deterioration. It was a combination which made for rich photographic studies.
During one such exploration in a semi-derelict industrial building we came across something more than the usual crude “tagging” graffiti. This was accomplished, thoughtful work with craft and imagination. It immediately changed the context of the environment and added a whole new dimension to our photographic objectives.
Through internet research we were able to trace the work of these “urban artists” and discovered a rich and vibrant community that scaled the globe. Soon we sought locations that housed work by our favourite artists. Thankfully we didn’t have too far to travel.
The city of Sheffield had become a major draw for urban artists attracted by the great range of buildings left empty by the collapse of manufacturing over the past decades.
The work of artists such as Phlegm, Kid Acne, Rocket01 and Faunagraphic are now recognised the world over and all have their roots in the city’s industrial ruins. We have been fortunate in documenting some fabulous pieces by these artists.
By their nature the works are ephemeral, their longevity limited to how long they can survive the elements or the wrecking ball.
After a while we built up a strong collection of images and decided to put them into an exhibition charting our journey from initial explorations and what we found to the emergence of using our photography to document the cultural and environmental phenomenon of Urban Art.
- Urban Art is at York Theatre Royal until April 28 – full details here
- Steven Parker is a York-based photographer. Read more from him on his blog