Urban Decay & Historic Buildings

Coming from a long line of architects, I grew up with a love of old buildings and good design. Life in the historic heart of a city can often be bittersweet. You are immersed in a cosmopolitan buzz that is absent in suburbia, surrounded by wonderful old buildings, designed and built when good design and workmanship took precedence over saving time and money. But all buildings, if not maintained, will degrade over time, so a degree of urban decay and its companion, crime, is often present in these older parts.

The worldwide phenomenon of urban decay becomes particularly noticeable when amplified by the rampant crime. In South Africa, the draconian excesses of Apartheid led to a pendulum swing reaction, so that the new Government was too soft on crime. This has resulted in the ironic situation where criminals run free on the streets, whilst honest residents live behind bars and razor wire. The old Premier Milling building, elegant in its functional simplicity, beautifully proportioned and with arched windows to break the austerity, is one notable victim of this. It has been abandoned, and has now reached the point where it is probably too late to save it. I’ve been photographing, drawing and painting it in recent years, chronicling the sad decline, in protest against the loss of our heritage icons.

Somerset Street Winter

300 x 300mm oil on canvas

Old Premier Milling Building | Port Elizabeth

Old Tramways Building | Port Elizabeth

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