This place has a name

It was only a matter of time before it all came down. The last time I walked through was on my way to town. Up the mossy steps and across the walkways, into strange spaces layered with paintings.

But then came the great reconstruction. Hoardings went up sharing brash statements about what’s to come once the work is undertaken.

And it got me thinking that something is amiss, the way plans come to pass. Before you know it a block’s pulled down before anyone’s thought to ask: is this what we want for our city, the place that we call home, what would I like to see and feel when all is set in stone?

Nuances of place is heavily underrated, developers don’t see because there’s no money to be made from it.¬†Even when it’s included in the literature, which inadvertently contributes to the decline of what’s being pitched to you.

Luxury apartments in the heart of the street art scene, but in reality it’s being ripped apart by JCBs while men in hard hats and suits watch as the fruits of their labourers plays out.

Why can’t we take the rough with the smooth, no need for every last pock mark to be removed, renovated? It seems like some things are better left unregenerated.

For this history isn’t medieval or wartime but my-time. The paintwork and the street corners are part of a time-line that speaks of the most subtle feats of human endeavour.

Pavements beat bent and broken from stomping children, trees like grandparents leaning over parked cars pushing their roots up to make bike ramps.

Streets where the graffiti is a landmark, plotting a course to a destination where ancestry and intention is lived out.

Conversations over a rusty gate, the flaking paint dropping with the years it takes for bonds to grow so strong that they might just pass over to the next of kin.

For this place has an age, a face and a name; a personality to which it stakes its claim. These things weren’t prefabricated, but grown from a thousand imprints, thoughts and visions pressed together in a coalition so deep and intricate most would miss it. Except the ones who seek to add their own.

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Paint the town red/orange/pink

Took a few pictures down at Upfest on Sunday (Europe’s biggest street art festival). It’s generally quieter than the Saturday, which I prefer because it means more opportunities for less crowded shots.

I’m not a huge street art fan necessarily, but I always pay a visit to this event, as the artwork seems to help create lively and interesting photos. That goes for graffiti, in general, and it’s something I often try to incorporate when I’m out taking pictures.

There’s certainly no shortage of it in Bristol!

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Redcliffe subway wins award

Redcliffe Street underpass has won Most Intimidating Subway of the Year.
Judges visiting Bristol for this year’s National Urban Decay Awards, noted how the subway’s darkened entrance, blind corners and sunken ceiling all contributed to a sense of ‘dread and uncertainty’, making it the favourite of the category.
Local residents were thrilled with the award. Rosary Farce said ‘it’s the last place on earth I’d ever want to go, except maybe with a hatchet and chainsaw. There’s not many places you can say that about in Bristol. Well, maybe a few.”
Councillor, Tim Reid, said the community had a love-hate relationship with the subway, as in they love to hate it. “It’s long been a talking point for the local community as a place that contributes to personal safety fears and general uneasiness within the neighbourhood. It’s fantastic that this is now being recognised as something to be proud of.”
Swindon was the overall winner, however, receiving the Gritty City award for being “generally bleak all round.”

Under the bridge

Down by the river, beneath the motorway is a place where the sun burrows deep. Concrete pillars are its pen, and the banks the paper, on which the light draws ever-shifting shadows.

Every so often, I venture down there, and try to capture what’s been sketched on the walls. Its particularly  interesting visiting at different times of the day, with mornings casting a bright white light across the Easton side, while sundown brings a warm, yellow glow that dies out over the western end of the river.

There’s not many places like it, especially in an age where any unkempt space is quickly pounced upon by rabid developers. Closed in by the motorway in an area still overlooked by estate agents means it continues to exist for now; an obscure and gritty canvas for graffiti artists and sunlight, alike.

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Beneath a concrete sky

“Maybe we should call the police.”

Steve shuffled down the steep incline, heart pumping while a river churned black below.

“I just want to see.”

He reached the gravel bank and looked carefully about. Up ahead, the canal swerved between graffiti covered columns, meeting with a shaft of sunlight that found its way beneath the concrete sky.

It fell just short of a figure that was slumped on the floor.

Josh said something else, but the sound didn’t penetrate. Steve’s mind was racing, in competition with his heartbeat. He took a step in the dirt.

Written for The Drabble.