In today’s seven billion-strong world, whose countries and cities are sprawling with inhabitants, spaces devoid of human activity are a source of great fascination. Photographer James Kerwin is more adept than most at capturing these abandoned places, immortalising the strange tranquility of each through his striking images. Scorned is the latest chapter in his ongoing series, a project which has taken him around the UK and Europe, camera in-hand. Kerwin “wanted each space to be a place or location that once housed lots of people, but that is somehow now totally empty and decayed – although still showing signs that it was once stunning,” he explains. The histories that Kerwin alludes to are self-evident in each building’s grandiose architectural details – gargantuan domed ceilings, sweeping staircases, columns and highly decorative walls and façades – making the scores of people that once filled them easy to imagine.
The idea that these vast buildings and rooms were once bustling with activity makes their current emptiness all the more poignant; where there was once much noise we now see a quiet stillness. The process of actually photographing these spaces, however, was not as tranquil as you might imagine. “Standing on the neighbouring rooftop on one building as the sun shone, as the noises of the party animals and revellers came from the city streets below, was a surreal experience,” he explains. “Once we made it inside, the noise of a nearby nightclub echoed throughout – the heavy bass noises filling the empty space as we all took our time to look around and photograph the interior.” The stark contrasts that Kerwin encountered – between antique and modern, busy and empty, loud and quiet – only serve to make Scorned all the more captivating to take in.