UrbanX is an Ely based urban explorer.
The definition of an urban explorer: the study of parts of civilization that are normally unseen or off-limits, such as abandoned structures, drains, sewers, tunnels, etc.
How often have you looked at the urban environment in Ely? I mean really looked, not just at the tourist trail of our beautiful Cathedral, Oliver Cromwell’s house, or Ely’s fabulous riverside views, but the truly hidden gems that abound within this ship of the Fens? I started really looking at our city during the balmy evenings of last spring, when the sky finally kicked off its winter overcoat and Ely sprang into consciousness. It was during this time that, whilst mulling over thoughts about the transient nature of architecture and sociological history, fate led me to my great discovery, the art of urban exploration.
Station House, Fordham Â© UrbanX 2008
Urban exploration is about pushing the boundaries of art and life, pushing oneself to discover new places and capture them for posterity. Photography allows us to document the beauty of these hidden landscapes, to revel in their richness and to contemplate their former states, before they fall into oblivion and out of our reach forever.
They didn’t come home Â© UrbanX 2008
Where do you imagine the nearest underground emergency centre, complete with air-locks, and a BBC studio to be? London? Cambridge? Lynn Road? How far would you have to travel, or how much would you have to pay, to sit in a chieftain tank? Answer: a 20 minute drive, and free if you know where to look.
Urban X Â© UrbanX 2008
We should look beyond those buildings that we’re supposed to find outstanding, leave that tourist trail behind, steer clear of those red ropes that lead to the ultimate gift shop. In fact, keep that map with the light brown signs firmly in the glove box. Make you own sights of historical interest; choose your own history. Beauty is all around us, to be found in dilapidation and despair as equally as it is in golden spires and ornamental carvings.
Have you ever given the old factory opposite Tescos a second glance? Do you wonder what lies within? A vast industrious cathedral of hoppers, labyrinths of conveyors, lit by an almost ecclesiastical light shining through the roof lights. The walls of the staff room are festooned with photos of bygone Christmas parties, slowly bleached by the light of the sun. Rows of worker uniforms are strewn from their pegs by vandals. One cannot help but wonder how much time will pass before this building is either torn down by developers or torched by cowardly arsonists. And when that time comes, these memories, these small fragments of life and hope within the lives of the ordinary working man and woman, will be lost forever within the ravages of time and history. Unless, that is, we document them first. Welcome to urban exploration. Trust me, it’s addictive.
Seclusion Â© UrbanX 2008
To see some of UrbanX’s photographic work first hand, please come along to the Cambridge Open Studios exhibition this July.
Reflections Â© UrbanX 2008
All photographs remain the copyright of UrbanX 2008