You don’t have to venture too far from the centre of Sheffield to still be able to find buildings which have – so far – escaped the redevelopment and gentrification of the centre. You can understand why: Most consider them an eyesore and something to be brought back into (money-making) use, but I love them in this dilapidated state.
I had explored one part of this little cluster of buildings briefly before, at the end of another day exploring Sheffield generally, but a friend and fellow photog had also ‘discovered’ them independently, so we teamed up, partly for safety on such an abandoned site, and partly for the company of a few hours with cameras.
Sunrise in the city is different to being in the wider countryside: There may be patches of sky visible, but I’ve learned that the real reward can often come from facing the other way and watching buildings catching the first-rays of sun. Windows are particularly effective. However, here … well, not a window in site, but I did find some brickwork catching the light in a lovely way.
Also my first chance the try the fisheye lens in an urban environment: Whilst this would possibly be a disaster for architectural work, especially given that it is pretty much the opposite of the oft-favoured shift-tilt lens, when degradation has removed neat architectural right-angles, then this is the time to play still further with them!
This occasion was a little different to previous visit to such sites, in that as I was working away, I head a voice coming from somewhere. I looked around, but could see no-one, so carried on taking photos. Heard it again, and a head appeared from behind an old wooden door, right where I had just been taking photos: A guy was inside and curious to know what I was doing there. A fair question, and the following chat revealed that this small, maybe three metres by three metres room, was the current home to two brothers. Yes, it’s one thing knowing that there are possibly people around such a site, and quite another to chat and find out that the place you are just visiting voluntarily, and will shortly be leaving for warmth, coffee and breakfast before heading home, is a place where two fellow humans are currently stranded on the fringes of society, and trying to make the best of their situation. I’m not going to get into a political rant or ponder the increasing disparity between rich and poor here, but it does tend to bring the point home, and make you wonder what can be done.
… but as a wise friend points out, maybe the caring and spending time chatting to them simply as people is what they appreciate, not me trying to ‘fix’ their lives. Good point.
There also seem to be some very talented non-mainstream artists around Sheffield, although the guy who has painted the massive telescope across one of the buildings also has an ‘official’ installation above the entrance to the Millennium Gallery, only a few minutes walk away. According to my new friend, there are people from many countries who have worked there. Interesting thought.
So, sit back and enjoy the photos, and maybe pause for a moment to appreciate what you have right now …