Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Street Art Exmouth Style (Part 12)


I sometimes identify with Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now when he makes his famous 'I love the smell of napalm' speech. There's chaos all around, his helicopters having just laid waste to a Vietnamese village. A bomb explodes behind him but he doesn't flinch. He looks to his men and says: "Some day this war's going to end." And he says it as though it's a prediction, contemplating it as though it will be a sad day when that day comes...

In a backstreet deep down in the depths of Exmouth - down in the belly of the beast - there are what can only be described as slum dwellings. Ruins, basically. They're going to be demolished and new town houses built in their place, and I can't help feeling that it will be a sad day when that day comes. I'm sure most people view these old buildings as eyesores and will be glad to see them knocked down but I see them as pieces of art, really. Representations of beauty ravaged.
The ghost signs and the graffiti that I once photographed and stuck up on this blog have already gone, so I'm glad I at least managed to capture them for posterity before being lost forever. And now these slum dwellings are due to go also. In their place, new, modern-day town houses are to be built and I'm sure they're going to be all very nice even if only Russian oligarchs might be able to afford them. I still can't help feeling it will be a sad day though.

The old order changeth, yielding place to new. We're at the end of an age.

Some day this war's going to end.

And in posting the above photographs, it enables me also to post one of my most favourite quotes. From Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti, who fought in the Spanish Civil War:
"We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth, there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute."


  1. Wow, I find that image stunningly beautiful. I feel just the same as you describe about this kind of thing. There really is something special about delapidation... I wonder where this response comes from but I know several people who feel the same way. Perhaps it's because it feels like a return to nature somehow, the organic breaking down of something man-made? As well as the fact that it's aesthetically interesting... and thus pleasing... unanswered questions hanging there, hints of a past that we may never know, etc. It'll be a shame to see them replaced with architecture that cannot compete for character... at least, not until another hundred years have passed, by which time they may well take on the same qualities, who knows?!

    1. Thank you, C. I'm glad I'm not the only one to find things like this beautiful. And it is as you describe as in being an organic breakdown, aesthetically interesting, and hints of a past unknown. I realise these places need to be taken down at some point or if not they'll probably just fall down - and onto someone as they're walking by - but as I said, it's still sad. I've seen the design of the new town houses to be built and I can guarantee you can very easily imagine what they're going to look like. But then it's a good point you make that perhaps in another 100 years these new houses may take on the same qualities of the ones they've replaced? Thanks, C.

    2. Great photo's John, made me look at the buildings in a very different way - the problem with new buildings is that they haven't had time to acquire character I guess, some of their near neighbours that were built a few years back are exactly the same design as the others on the road built a hundred odd years ago yet they look Perhaps there's an opening in the market for some urban decay specialists who could prematurely age the place ?

      I suppose the quotation at the end makes this a Durruti column.... ? Sorry.....

    3. Actually, I think we may all well be urban decay specialists in our own little ways. And coincidentally, one of the developers of the new houses being built is called Vince. Not sure of his last name but it would be too much of a coincidence if it was Reilly...

  2. Being a huge fan of a little dereliction, I must say I love these photos. There is something wonderful about ruins of any kind, isn't there? Reminds me of days spent going through derelict houses when I was a kid.

    1. And now they're gone and the new town houses are in their place. All that now remains of them ever being there are probably these photos.
      Some day this war's going to end...