By Mark McConville
STUNNING pictures have revealed the darker but eye-popping side to the hidden North of Britain.
The images show a large selection of forgotten urban spaces in north-west England and Scotland ranging from underground sewers to abandoned but still grandiose banks, churches and theatres.
The shots were taken by Manchester artist, photographer and film maker Andrew Brooks (39) as he investigated largely unknown places that lie beneath and around us.
“I love to explore cities and I find that these forgotten spaces help to talk about urban history,” he said.
“Looking at what’s left behind shows an alternative story of a town and there is a sense of uncovering layers of history and helps you to read a city in new ways.
“This is a large selection of my pictures of forgotten urban.
“There are views of abandoned theatres, churches and banks, empty bunkers, covered rivers and reservoirs.
“There are panoramic views of cities from the tops of cathedrals and town halls. You can feel the emptiness and see the fine detail of these strange spaces.”
To create the spectacular images Andrew had to build the pictures out of many separate photographs.
“The images are all composite pictures,” he said.
“This allows me to document not just small parts of these spaces, but whole areas brought together into single pictures.
“I love to show the strange atmosphere of these locations and give a feel for how it felt to be there. I bring out detail of the dampness of the bricks and the detritus left behind over years of abandonment.
“I also work with deep shadows when I build the pictures to hold back on letting the viewer see everything and create a sense of mystery and edginess to the spaces.”
Andrew wants to show people that there is another side to the cities they live in, if they would just lift their head and look around.
“It’s about looking at and exploring your surroundings. It’s very easy to feel you know the city you live in and keep your head down as you make your way across town,” he said.
“But with some effort, imagination and time spent researching there are other ways of experiencing the towns you know so well.
“People seem very drawn to these images and have often heard rumours of these locations, some true and some slightly muddled.
“I feel very lucky to have the chance to visit these spaces so through my work I seek to convey and share the experience of being there.
“I think showing a slightly different version of the cities they know so well opens people’s minds and sometimes is the seed that starts people exploring for themselves.”
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