Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Urbex

I recently discovered the term Urbex after purchasing a photography book called Beauty in Decay. The term Urbex is an abbrevaition for 'Urban Explorer' and is defined as being 'the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.' As a teenager I explored frequently but never knew that such activities could be defined as a sport. 


Whilst attending college I would frequently visit a church in the town during my lunch break. Now urbexing mostly refers to the exploration of abandoned buildings but the church I visited was still in use by the public and services were held throughout the week. However, the church basement appeared as though it was not used and this is the part I visited. 


When I first went into the basement of the church there was a small hole with a rusty metal panel placed over the top, to deter people from entering. There was also a small arched doorway down a spiral stairwell but was padlocked and impossible to budge. Usually when seeing that a place is not habitable and should not be entered a person will steer clear from it. But with time on my hands and an inquisitive imagination wondering what could be down there I entered the small hole and dropped myself down. Looking back through the hole to the outside the opening was very small and the drop had been the length of a person. I had no way of getting back out and would not be able to climb up because there was no ledge. Luckily for me there was a pair of wooden ladders propped up against the opposite wall. I immediately retrieved them and placed them against the wall to the opening and climbed, testing my route back out of the basement. Happy that I was able to get back out I began to look around.


There wasn't a great deal to explore, it was just a room. On my second or third visit to the church basement I found a light switch so was able to see the room more clearly. There was nothing of interest really and I can't recall what I saw down there. But this was my first urbex experience, just at the time I didn't know this was what it was. I eventually described the church basement to my brother and a work colleague (both of whom I was in a band with at the time, although admittedly we never did much aside from a couple of jamming sessions). I suggested the basement as an ideal place where we could practice as a band and that subsequently, our band name could relate to playing underground. At the time I romanticised the church basement and what could become of my visits down there. I thought I would pen my first novel, the band would practice there and I would conjure up other creative ideas of what to do there. The reality was that when I took my brother and work colleague down, they were frightened to enter. Upon finally going down neither of them were very taken with it and certainly didn't have the same view as I. After revealing my hiding place to my brother and showing it to him, he informed my mother and I was told never to enter there again and should not be entering 'creepy' places on my own. Since then I haven't really explored. I suppose I grew up, or at least lost the sense of adventure a young girl often has. 


The Beauty in Decay book has opened my eyes to a world beyond where we are told we can go. If you look beyond the danger sign, you might find your own personal hideaway where anything becomes possible. 


                                  Unknown


         Andre Govia


         Vincent Jansen

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