Artist interview: Gina Soden

Climbing through the floorboards, abandoned islands and Jack the Ripper… artist and photographer Gina Soden talks about the beauty she finds in decay...

Krankenhaus Edition 1

My work explores…

...a preoccupation with abandoned structures and locations. I travel all over Europe (and soon the world!) to discover undisclosed sites. I want to explore the boundaries of beauty, decay, nostalgia and neglect. The genesis of each piece of my artwork is often the unique architectural character of each location, heightened by their painfully slow transformation after years of abandonment. My works feature derelict asylums, long since closed schools, ex-military compounds and famous city power stations in various stages of decay. Every image is a product of a journey, referring both to the physical demands of gaining entry and to the passing of time which is evident in the abandoned locations.


Going out for a walk inspires me because...

...I love the fresh air and nature. I love animals and my dog Maisie and seeing National Trust properties, and all of these tie together well. My dad is a keen walker and we often stroll around London on themed walks that he creates. The most recent one was a Beatles walk, and before that one based on Jack The Ripper and secret London, exploring often unseen alleyways of the city. I love the city but nature rules for me; I used to live in a small village in the countryside which was perfect for walks and exploring.


Church  2013  From the series Decadenza

The thing that makes me feel most creative is…

...watching movies and seeing other artists’ work in galleries. I have a huge fascination with movies, and have a big DVD collection which is ever growing. I love world cinema and some of my favourite movies are the ones with beautiful cinematography.  Even if I think the storyline isn't so strong, I am very visually affected, I look on Instagram and read articles everyday... many things inspire me. I also love landscape photography - it takes great patience and skill.


I am currently working on…

...my next series which will be based around nature taking over the buildings I photograph. I am yet to decide where to go - it may be Asia - but the more I research the more I find that the places I want to shoot are all over the place, so this may be a series which takes a while to compile.


Plague  2013  From the series Decadenza

The piece I am most proud of is…

...I would say Blue Orphanage as it's a sold-out piece apart from the artist proof (which I am saving) but recently sales of Villa have exploded, even before it won the Naylor Award at the National Open Art Competition recently! I am proud because it was a tough image to shoot, physically as well as technically. It was a extraordinarily hot day and the room was vast and so beautiful, so trying to encapsulate that in an image was hard work. It was also a challenge to edit. I am very pleased with the outcome!

The strangest experiences I have had so far working as a photographer are...

...bribing workers to get inside a beautiful castle while the owner slept in the house next door; being dropped off on an island that used to house the victims of the plague with two hours to shoot the whole place; making my way into an old NHS building by coming up through the floorboards; making lifelong friends in a derelict asylum.


My favourite place to walk is...

...Finchampstead and London.

Villa  2013  From the series Decadenza

The most magical place I know is…

...my bed after a long trip! Although I have seen some wonderful things. Long may it continue!

The next place I want to explore on foot is…

...Iceland.

One thing I always take with me on a walk is…

...a camera.

Find out more about Gina Soden's photography.