I’ve always looked for the beauty in dereliction. Decaying, abandoned buildings, peeling walls, rusted artifacts and long discarded objects all hold a visual fascination for me. I spend time searching out and photographing these places – both in their own right and as a backdrop for my environmental portraits.
Recently I stumbled across an old abandoned ‘finca’ with an amazing series of graffiti artworks decorating its walls and inhabiting its spaces. It was a gallery of work – years in the making, that nobody had ever seen. Through each room you could see the development of the artist as they fueled the need to paint these crumbling walls. I was intrigued by this ‘unknown’ artist and what inspired them to paint a building that would soon be demolished. Most of all I was overwhelmed by the respect the ‘unknown’ artist showed this devastated house and how the graffiti complimented, rather than detracted from, its environment.
I posted a photo of the ‘artwork by unknown artist’ on Instagram but nobody knew more of this mystery creator.
I was left with nothing but questions. What drives an artist to produce art that may never be seen, let alone bought, by anyone? When the building is demolished and the artwork reduced to dust – where does that leave the artist?
I can relate to the physical need to make images – to take photos or paint pictures, because it is compulsion, obsession, vocation and from the day I left the ‘finca’ I was determined to find this fellow artist.
I did that yesterday. His name is Mangüe López. He’s just 17 years old. If he had a website to link to I would but he’s an original talent and he’s not doing it for the fame or the gain – he’s just doing it because he is.
In a quiet leafy suburb a lone figure walks through a park, crosses a stream, and enters a storm drain.
He walks through the ankle deep water and I follow as a feeling of claustrophobia creeps into me. I try to keep up but slip on some slime and water splashes my face in the darkness.
Paul Walsh is an artist who is totally at home in this subterranean world and as he walks he shines the torch on his phone into the void and gives me a running commentary of the graffiti artists who have tagged down there.
Finally we emerge into the light, at the end of the tunnel, as we reach the spot where Paul will do his piece.
It’s a fairytale world where tropical plants hang down graffiti clad walls and birds bathe in the water that runs through the storm drain while, bizarrely, bright orange goldfish swim in the pools that are cut off from the main flow.
All is silent apart from the birdsong, the sound of an occasional inner city train as it thunders overhead and the rattle of spray cans as Paul gets to work….This is not commercial art produced to sell but something crafted for the pure love of it and the need to create and be creative. A few hours pass by like seconds and then Paul is finished.
As we trudge back through the darkness shafts of light illuminate urban artworks rarely seen by the public walking above us. We say our goodbyes and I make my way back through the city watching commuters in suits hurry across town and teenage kids, still in their school uniforms, smoking on swings in the park.
Alone in the darkness of the tunnel the black and white face of Charles Bukowski stares out and his words echo eerily
“some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
Lights, Community, Action!
The Smalls is excited to announce the UK premiere of our first in-house film production The Actress, created and presented together with visionary director Ben Charles Edwards.
In an effort to showcase the talent of our community The Smalls set out to make a short film that would do just that.
We gathered a strong crew of more than 30 Smalls members who had only 4 days to shoot and 3 weeks to edit a 20-minute short film. We faced many challenges, but with some hard work, team spirit and the wonderful Sadie Frost onboard we knew it was going to be pretty special.
With The Smalls Pitch Room launching in mid-October, allowing patrons of film to present film and music video briefs to our community, we see The Actress as a great celebration of all of us together entering a new era of filmmaking.
This film shows not only what is possible through collaboration, but also illustrates the incredible filmmaking talent within our community. We are convinced that through the launch of our Pitch Room, we will see many new patrons come to connect with the world’s best short film creators here at The Smalls.
About The Actress
It is the twilight of a grand old movie star’s life. Poor health and old age have robbed her of her glamour, her career and now – probably within hours – her life. The end is near. She arrives, surrounded by her parasitic entourage, at a cinema for a private showing of her greatest screen moments. Kicking out her hangers-on, she sits alone in the dark as the light of the projector illuminates the silver screen and her previous youth and beauty. In a daring escape from the inevitable, she enters the screen and is suddenly back in her movies – a star once more. She tumbles from genre to genre in scenes taking in the silent era, film noir, ’70s sci-fi sexploitation and ’90s sitcom land. It is a desperate attempt to outsmart and outrun the apparition of death itself, which pursues her through the scenes. Inevitable or not – this old movie diva isn’t going without a fight. This is the story of a shooting star who refuses to fade away or go gently into that good night.
What the crew had to say…
“The overall experience during production was so amazing, it’s hard to pick highlights. Probably the look on Johnnie Furnivalle’s face after spending three hours on the roof with the rain machine. I was perpetually impressed with the dedication of all the crew in bringing the script to life.” – Martin Hickford, Editor
“The future of successful independent filmmaking is all about collaboration. It’s about positivity and self-belief and freeing your mind to think outside the box to make a film no matter what. Ben Charles Edwards and The Smalls took a big risk with the filming of The Actress – only 4 days to shoot just under 30 minutes of edited film, a limited budget, a crew that had never worked together, and a large cast. This film proves that when a talented group of like-minded people come together and are prepared to overcome all obstacles there is only one outcome – and that is the true success of this film.” – John Hicks, Director of Photography
“The Actress is a wonderful short film, and a great example of the level of talent within The Smalls community. It shows the power and reach of our network, the courage of our members, and how we as a digital platform can bring creative individuals together to make a world class short film.” – Kate Tancred, Producer and Managing Director of The Smalls
Ben Charles Edwards
Ben Charles Edwards
Sadie Frost, Perry Benson, Sally Phillips, Morgana Robinson, Irwin Sparkes, Jack Guinness, Lola Coca, Kaylee Cooper, Jason Dack, Sorcha Finch-Murray, Jack Gow, Richard Jenkins, Al Joshua, Zara Martin, Gerard Mcdermott, Carl Prekopp, Michael Sani, Fabrizio Santino
Natalie Greenwood, Renee Tillot, Tom Bacon, Louis J Parker, John Hicks, Tim Deiling, Niall Green, Deborah Bucket, Stefan Hornig, Marcin Szumilas, Rob Hurtt, Holly Jade Finlay, Mary Davidson, Mikkel Eriksen, Robey Albert, Oscar Alexander Lundberg, Yasmin Francis, Hannah May Khan, Aaron Blondell, Nicola Hill, Tristan Lee, Emma Savill, Chris James Edwards and Georgina Walsh