A spiral of decline

Three weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I cannot claim to have taken it well – the lethargy, the aching joints and weakening muscles a bad combination for somebody who has a psychological dependency on exercise.

So far it has been an unsettling experience. For various reasons I’m usually highly attuned to my body, my fitness and strength. The past few weeks has turned this on its head and there often seems to be an unpleasant surprise round the corner. It’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced before, and the sensation of unknown things happening inside me is not a comfortable one.

Whenever I’ve hit a rough patch over the past few years I’ve become fixated on abandonment and dereliction. It not a case of morbid fascination. Whilst abandoned places can have a tangible sadness to them, I always find this overshadowed by the richness of shape, form and colour that can be found in the decay.

A year ago I paid my first visit to an abandoned oil refinery a few miles from my home. What I found was dereliction on a massive scale – an abandoned site the size of a small town. Last week, feeling despondent and at a very low ebb, I made a return visit.

I left several hours later, inspired, energised and with a new project. ‘Spiral of Decline’ is going to be the new focus of my long-running photographic study of the abandoned places of the Scottish Highlands.

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