CHARLES BRABIN

Urban and industrial photography

Urban areas are where most people work and live. Perhaps it is for this reason that we often become bored and desensitised to the environment around us; it becomes neutral, unattractive, uninteresting, even depressing.

Yet ‘urbania’ has much to offer the viewer. There are the textures and colours: the roughness of concrete; the smoothness of glass, sometimes dark, sometimes crystal blue or sea green, sometimes reflecting the lights of traffic. Then there are the patterns – endless repeating lines, flowing curves and sharp diagonals – which characterise mass accommodation and vast towers of office space. Size is also often hard to take in, but can be brought home by a new perspective. Often, these elements are high above the street, invisible to those below who are focussed on negotiating the densely packed pavement. The surroundings are just background, easily ignored.

Perhaps because modern life tends to be based around them, urban scenes can provide powerful reflections of reality. Vast arrays of shimmering office windows suggest anonymity and isolation from the outside world; behind each window is a desk, the same as the one behind the adjacent window; above, there is another window, another desk. Faces have been replaced by the company logo.

Industry is dirty, dangerous and best kept out of the way. Perhaps, but it also has a certain attraction.

We have a habit of concealing industrial activity by placing it at arm's length or surrounding it with high fences and billboards; it becomes a mysterious, hidden world. The buildings and structures often lead an isolated existence, lacking the clutter of people and cars which fill city streets and suburbia. Free from the aesthetic pressures of urban life, industrial buildings can take on their own scale and form, with functionality firmly at the helm.