Urban Decay

Torn Tar

Torn Tar

Originally uploaded by fionalongart.

As I walk around the streets of London, on my way to college or work and when I’m out and about, going to galleries I see art everywhere. It may not be art to anyone else as it isn’t obviously beautiful, it isn’t made by an artist and it isn’t in a gallery, but I keep seeing elements of aesthetic quality and beauty wherever I look. I intend to explore the beauty of what many see as ugly, imperfect elements of our urban environment. Just as Ellsworth Kelly finds inspiration from architectural forms and abstracts from them, I plan to abstract from scenes of urban decay and create art works of aesthetic quality. I am going to make a series of paintings using unusual materials such as concrete (inspired my Anselm Kiefer) and liquid bitumen (from Antoni Tapies’ work). I also intend to use the powerful imagery of the slashed canvas as created by Lucio Fontana. I may simulate sewing this up using barbed wire. Mimmo Rotella was interested in the field of daily urban life which made him the great “unveiler” of the skin of our cities’ walls. I intend to draw inspiration from his peeling poster artworks and create some versions of my own. Panamarenko seems to work from a similar place, where everything is devised from ideas and materials at hand. For this reason I will keep my mind relatively open because my final work will be influenced by the materials that I find and by the experiments I have undertaken. I will also look at the work of Arte Povera influenced artist Anita Gibson and investigate using rusting metal objects on my canvasses. I will also collect debris from the streets of London and create a sculptural installation made from these found objects and strategically pour concrete over sections of it to represent the reabsorption of refuse into the urban environment. I have always been interested in refuse and the things that people throw away because my father was a consultant in waste disposal and my first job was as an environmental technician, topographically surveying landfill sites. I will research my paintings using photography of urban decay and found art that I discover on my daily travels, pigeons on broken railings, plastic bags in trees, peeling posters and paint, and industrial structures. I will draw from these sources and abstract from them using materials to denote urban decay. I will carry out experiments to fully explore these new materials

  1. Love this! Fascinating project, and one that I can relate to in a tiny way at the minute – I just found Keri Smith’s ‘wreck this journal’ site and am suddenly seeing everything as Art! Incredibly liberating, and excellent fun! 🙂 I hope you get a lot from this project – you certainly seem to be making the most of this course and I’m thoroughly enjoying trying to keep up with you! So glad to be able to – thank goodness for Flickr & blogging! 🙂


  2. I love to hear of someone being that awake to their senses and being that sensitive to beauty. And the beauty of decay is a very delicate thing. The Japanese have a great traditional sensitivity to this and even have words for it – I think they call it Sabi-Wabi when they see the beauty of something no longer beautiful.

    But I must protest mildly. The things you are seeing aren’t “art”, what you are seeing is “beauty”, a strange and magical quality that human beings are gifted to be able to glimpse. Things have to be made to be art, because the word art has always been related to artefacts, to skill, to craft and endeavour.
    Art is something made, but beauty may be found.

    I am, actually, quite opposed to what has been made of Duchamp’s readymades. I think when he put a urinal in an art gallery his comment was a crude and harsh criticism of galleries themselves and they tried, as a riposte, to absorb his comment and turn it back into some ossified and overvalued moment in history, which is what galleries are good at.
    But I think Duchamp was right, galleries are the sort of toilets of culture, where art is petrified and abused and washed of meaning and stuffed with pomposity by some ghastly act of academic taxidermy.

    So I hope those raw objects you spot keep inspiring you, and I hope you can find better homes for your art than the hallowed mausoluea of museum halls.


  3. Always cool to find someone who sees thinks like i do but communicates them in a totally different way. I also take all my insipration for my paintings from the streets and the everyday, commonplace objects people pass by without noticing. Its refreshing that in and overly urban world not everyone longs for snow capped mountains and lush green valleys but can view their immediate surroundings with the same romanticism as is lavished upon the formal landscaps

  4. Thanks Aisling! I agree. There is so much beauty that surrounds us wherever we are. It’s our job to point it out to people! 😉 I’d be interested to see your work!

  5. I believe that contemporary art is sometimes based on mark making process. I love your artwork, but i’m curious to know if you only use oil paints to create your paintings. Do you use other materials to create the decay look?

  6. Hi Miriam, yes I certainly do use materials other than oil paint. In fact, in my Urban Flux series I didn’t use any! I used more unusual materials such as concrete and bitumen, more characteristic of the city than of traditional art making practices. Thanks so much for your question and please come and visit again.

  7. My As exam topic is urban decay. Thought I’d let you know you’re atleast now a celebrity on my schools art room wall. Really inspirational work, thanks alot!

  8. hey there! i am from india and i have this paticular topic “urban decay” to do for my exam
    so… i was wondering if i could use what you have mentioned up here and acknowledge u 🙂
    please reply

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