Rural meets urban as I dance through the ruins of Aberthaw Lime Works in Glamorgan, moving with graffiti, broken windows and crawling ivy in my first urban explorer style dance film.
Established in 1888, Aberthaw Lime Works is now derelict, and lies just to the west of Cardiff Airport. It's not necessarily a tourist destination, but it's a pretty cool looking building that's on the way to the beach.
Aberthaw Lime Works is a spot frequented by many urban explorers (to the uninitiated, that's those who specialise in documenting and tracing the histories of derelict and abandoned buildings) as demonstrated by 'Urbex' YouTuber 'Exploring with Boss' in this fab video. It's without a roof, crawling with ivy and is home to a couple of interesting graffiti pieces. There are various tunnels and other nooks and crannies to explore. The building has simply been left for people (and nature!) to explore. It turns out, it's also a pretty awesome place to create a dance video.
In this seventh video of the collection, I'm still finding new things to discover with at each site we visit. Here, I had a lot of fun playing with certain restrictions in the window spaces. The windows weren't quite tall enough for me to stand up completely straight, but I was challenged to keep my back straight whilst sustaining a certain amount of movement in that very small space. There was also something about playing around with the things that you can see through the windows and beyond - a conversation between my body and the surroundings.
This kind of experimentation with a varied focus throughout the film is something that I have grown to really love about this one-shot format. I very much enjoy how the camera can zoom in on particular moving body parts, before then zooming out to take in the whole body or even the surroundings as I pass in and out of focus. I think it's an interesting way of viewing a body in space, and revealing the site to the viewer. It's particularly interesting here in the use of the disused windows and doorways.
From the perspective of camera operation, another new element for this video was something we have called 'the disappear', where the camera drifts upwards and away from me for a few seconds. I find that almost ethereal light coming through those six windows very aesthetically pleasing, and the camera's quick shift back to the empty space initiates a feeling of truly following my footsteps through the space, finding me again, mid-movement. In a sense, it's like the camera is choreographing it's own movement too.
The rural setting of Aberthaw Lime Works also allowed for another reveal - moving outside to view the lake and experience the ivy which crawls all over the outside of the building. I really loved the ivy - I find my eyes are drawn to the way that the green of the leaves pops emphatically against the stone.
Throughout the video, there's a repeated motif of dragging my feet - I felt somehow compelled to do this when filming. I imagined a magnet attached to my chest, pulling me away from where I had just been dancing and towards something new. These movements were very much in response to a particular set of graffiti I saw on the walls - graffiti which read "Anarchy is Love."
Now, I don't necessarily agree with this statement. I'm all for dismantling and disrupting systems of power, but I believe that complete anarchy - in it's truest form - leaves the most vulnerable at even more risk of inequality and exploitation. That being said, the phrase "Anarchy is Love" was a really engaging stimulus for me here. I can understand the draw of anarchist ideas, and so the imaginary magnet at my chest was indicative of that.
I also tried to represent "Anarchy is Love" in my quick arm movements, with arms moving towards my heart and then pulled away again - as if by that same magnet. I placed smoother, circular movements next to movements which sought to create sharp angles, as if to balance love with chaos.
Aberthaw Lime Works was a really interesting site to experiment with - there's so much character there, from it's origins in the late 19th century, and then it being peppered with much more recent graffiti which resonates with the current global moment... there were lots of exciting elements to work with.
As well as filming this video, one of the reasons we visited this area in the heat of summer was, of course, to go to the beach. We're very much fans of trying out new beaches in our area (and many of them are almost completely empty at the moment!) The beach which lies just to the south of Aberthaw Lime Works is Limpert Bay.
Limpert Bay is a very rocky beach, so if you want to head out there you need to be wearing the right footwear - the rocks are really quite substantial! But it was a discovery that we made in the rocks which lead to a bit of a revolutionary moment for us...
There was seaweed rooted in the rocks. It was as if it had actually inserted its roots into solid rock... many rocks! We were amazed. Now, I'm sure that this can't be the first time we've walked on a beach with seaweed rooted into the rocks, but it was most definitely the first time we noticed it! It was like something from another planet.
I've since Googled it, and apparently these aren't the seaweed's roots (because seaweed doesn't have roots!) but the bit where it attached to the rock is called it's 'holdfast.' Apparently seaweed almost always need a solid surface to grow from. Well... you learn something new everyday!
If this post has got your spidey senses tingling to try out a bit of urban exploring yourself, the Urban Explorer website is a great place to start, to see if there are any visually delightful abandoned buildings near you.
Got a hankering to watch more dance videos where the urban meets the rural? Check out the following posts: