Last year, I went on an urbex photo adventure to an abandoned factory in London and have been waiting for the perfect time to show you the pictures! (All photos are by me unless otherwise credited. The one above is by So Say We All.)
Even when I modelled for a living, I rarely got the chance to meet other models and performers (as I mentioned in my Wacken blog) so when So Say We All photography asked to photograph my ‘Deathhawk’ character as part of a storyline with another postapocalyptic costumer, I jumped at the chance! Sian K1tt3h is a long-time cosplayer and costume maker- check out her postapocalyptic Wonder Woman! There were five of us- Sian and I = two posers, Kieran (SSWA) and Sonesh Joshi photographing and Jia Li assisting.
England is rather crammed for space; it’s crowded, tame and about as far from wilderness as you can get. You simply cannot do Mad Max as England has a serious lack of desert. On the other hand, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and 28 Days Later suit the British bleakness and if a stray plant or two creeps into shot, well that’s what would happen in most end-of-days scenarios this side of the pond! That’s why we shot at Fullers Earth Works; an abandoned factory just outside London.
Fullers earth is an absorbent clay used in dry shampoo and powder cosmetics but mostly cat litter. It used to be mined in Bedfordshire and in Redhill, just outside London and the factory was built in the 1950s, by a huge quarry that was there already through various industries in the 1920s. Due to falling profits, the factory was closed in 1995, used as a waste transfer station and now lies derelict. There’s a detailed historical report on the urbex site “28 Days Later”.
The factory is immense but mostly hidden from the road so we made our way down a concrete track and almost immediately the trees opened up to show us the buddleia-lined path, grey-white sky and mahoosive top-heavy looking metal structure dominating the view. This isn’t a place that you’d have to break in order to enter, (not that I would anyway- I’m about leaving things be). We walked into a graffiti-lined foyer, trudged our way through a mud slick and entered the factory area.
As we were there to shoot, we actually saw very little of the inside- we were making up stories, finding interesting little things that just had to be photographed and by the time we were starving and stopped for some food, a loud group of young urbexers came to visit. As we weren’t sure quite how regularly security visited, we decided it was time for us to go; taking nothing but photos and leaving nothing but footprints. I need to go back again- I want to see what the rest of the place looks like, but here are the shots I captured in between sets:
Look at the textures! Look at the colours! This is why I love abandoned places- things weather in different ways when they are left open to the elements and even a place as industrial-looking as this has many angles and opportunities for a good shot. I had my foot in a puddle while taking the photo above and Kieran took this shot from the other side.
Sian and I posed as enemies, as friends, as sisters- we did a lot of experimenting and making up backstories, and I love the way Kieran treated the two ‘characters’. I love the final shot of the two of us at the top and sisters seemed to work well….. it was only later that I added a raven skull to my top and I just noticed the one Sian’s wearing below! I like a nice coincidence. 😀
We’ve been asked a few times how the effects were achieved. Well, it was mostly in camera! Smoke bombs. Doesn’t Sian look amazing!
Photo straight out of my camera
We swapped around a lot, taking photos with Sonesh and Kieran together and separately- both photographers treated the location very differently, so I can think of several backstories based on who was shooting! 😀
Two of Sonesh’s photos are below.
We kept turning to snap more photographs as we left- there were too many details that may not have worked as a backdrop for our character shots but looked so striking on their own. Like these.
Being freezing, damp and a lot more dangerous, exploring abandoned buildings usually gets put on hold until things get warmer but that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly on adventures. I’ve been in one place for far too long. Right now, my current obsession is strongholds for the zombie apocalypse! I’m going to visit quite a few of them this year in preparation for an exciting article!
Any curiosities near you that you think I should visit…? 😉
p.s. I’m retiring my Deathhawk ‘barbarian’ outfit soon; a few improvements first and then I’ll begin work on a new one. I have two in mind- the tribal-type one I started at Wasteland Weekend, or a more mechanical looking one like the costumes in Pacific Rim, but more bashed-up? Any preferences? 😉