They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Quite who they are, or is, has never been quite fully explained to my sufficiency if I’m honest, but is always “they” who say it. I have never quite gone along with this premise being a truism, simply based on some of the things, sights and people who this saying has been applied to. Can any of us who have ever used or heard the phrase being uttered, honestly say that it is not used with more than a passing sack of patronising intent or with a vat full of intent to it? If there was a no-eared, two nosed, five eared man/woman/animal of choice stood before you with a face like a tea towel holder and skin like an elbow sag, could you honestly say it was beautiful? Well, you could, but I know, and you know that you wouldn’t mean it. Plus, you would probably somebody who is best avoided and most definitely not somebody to be engaged in a confined space.
Admit it, that malformed, unidentifiable lump of pasta, snot, glue and cat hair that your child or young relative has just presented to you does not make you go “aah, that’s lovely” because it’s beautiful does it? It makes you make a noise like air escaping a kitten because you have to do it. Ok, perhaps because the child may also have some emotional tug on your heart strings, but it is not because that thing smeared to the blue sugar paper is beautiful.
So then, how is that I can find the broken things in life something I want to take photographs of? I love dilapidated industrial sites that resemble the sight of a nuclear meltdown covered in cartoons. I love the sight of the old and damaged buildings forgotten and abandoned by the world, falling in to a ruinous shambles. I love the sight of a stone wall that is as much use at keeping sheep in or out of a field as the Vatican is at managing the predilections of some of its employees.
Would I want to live there, work there or spend an inordinate amount of time there? No. Would I want the thing or place in my backgarden? Nope, no chance and no way. Would I want the image framed and put on my wall? Yes, absolutely. It is interesting, it is something that is flawed and damaged, something that has been forgotten about neglected. Do I like these sights because it chimes with some element deep in my psyche that echoes part of my life? I seriously hope note as I may as well just check myself in to the local Mental Home. I like them because they are interesting and most probably because they are flawed and most definitely because I can just walk away from them.
Which is the more interesting to look at, a pristine, double glazed window looking in to a perfectly gleaming plastic kitchen, or a broken, battered factory window looking in to a vast empty space with a past, a history and covered in art?