Abandoned buildings are truly fascinating places, redolent of lives lived with dignity, work done honestly and often, too, adverse circumstances and thwarted ambitions. And what of their afterlife? What might that reveal to us? Extremely visually and texturally rich as they very often are, deserted buildings are great for a story telling photographer interested to try to understand why abandonment happens and how, in their neglected state, these buildings can take on another life. The particular set of buildings photographed here in 2017 (and since demolished) comprised a derelict flax seed processing plant operated by Gorham & Bateson Ltd on the edge of the village of Gayton, West Norfolk. Remnants of the main structures, including offices, and the heavy machinery involved in the storing and processing of the seed were still present. The scale of the operation here during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was clearly significant, but it seems that it did not last very long with the company going into administration in 2002. Just as interesting to me, though, as the history of the site and its buildings are their afterlife once abandoned. With lots of empty wall space, this site clearly became a magnet for graffiti artists and as a result took on a completely different colour, energy and vitality. It seems to me that the site, for a few years at least, was functionally repurposed by a number of talented graffiti artists to serve their genuine need for a space to express themselves freely. The creative marks that we make as human beings have meaning, beauty  and value but, sadly, they can be too easily dismissed as worthless. How could we value and nourish creativity and human expression better in the future, wherever we find it?


This photo essay was published as NotQuiteFree Press Issue #2 in November 2022.
Buy your copy here: https://notquitefree.bigcartel.com/product/nqf-press-2-abandoned