I’ve always been totally obsessed with old buildings and decaying structures. Over the past few years I’ve seen many an urban exploration (aka ‘urbex’) article popping up, all showing haunting images of buildings that have been abandoned and stuck in a time warp of a forgotten world. I find it all ridiculously fascinating and intriguing.
Recently, I met Joanne O’Dwyer, a graduate of Limerick School of Art & Design, who based her final year’s work on urban exploration. Clearly I was vibrating with excitement to hear her tales. She told me she has also explored not so-urban farms, barns, houses as well as more recently, a deserted psychiatric asylum in the west of Ireland. Her urbex interest stems from her dad’s passing when she was just six years old. She and her family moved out of their dairy farm to a new house across the road. She spent her childhood exploring her family’s abandoned dairy farm and house, watching the place crumble as the years rolled on. Joanne found comfort in the “nostalgia, dampening walls and the memories embedded in them.”
One of the first houses Joanne explored was her grandmother’s abandoned house in Tipperary. “It was amazing to link up the stories I heard as a child and visually connect them to nooks and crannies of the house that they happened in”. She went on to explain that there’s an obvious risk of injury and even the danger of getting a hefty fine, as trespassing and dangerous structures go part and parcel with urbex, but she finds this “all part of the thrill”. The result is she’s managed to strike up some necessary friendships with rural farmers who find her passion amusing, but still welcome her onto their land. I wondered if she was running out of places to explore, but she assured me that the urbex landscape is plentiful. Just last week she discovered a slew of abandoned buildings, down the back roads of Roscommon, which she can’t wait to investigate and document.
Joanne says she plans to complete an Irish urbex book by next year (which I can’t wait for), but if you fancy owning one of her eerie images in the meantime, drop her an email: [email protected]
James Kavanagh @Jimarama