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The art of abandonment, decay and running from security guards

Artist Gina Soden's series 'Retrogression' goes on display in London tomorrow

Artist Gina Soden is obsessed with abandoned buildings. The more likely it is to fall down, the better. The looser the wallpaper, the sadder the state of repair and the more likely she is to encounter a mad guard dog, security man or whizzing CCTV camera, the more exciting. 

She scrambles through holes in fences, hides from angry guards by burying her face in mud, and clambers into buildings with more warning and hazard signs than remaining window glass.

While photographing the rotting splendour of a derelict Victorian asylum she got in trouble when a “very scary” Alsatian dog sniffed her out.

“I was confronted by a barking dog and a very aggressive security guard who accused me of breaking and entering which of course I never do. I had found my way in through a board which had simply been propped up against a door frame,” she says.

“I was pretty annoyed as he wanted my memory cards and he had called the police...I quickly stuffed my memory cards in my pants when he had his back turned to ensure my pictures couldn't be erased.”

Soden’s photographs have a stillness and quiet drama about them in contrast to the tales of derring-do that gave birth to them. The buildings chosen represent the heights of ambition, ornate architecture, military compounds huge wealth and family life relegated to ruin by neglect.

She gains unlicensed access to take her photographs – but denies “breaking and entering”- which adds a time limit and urgency to her creation of them.

Her work could be described as the art equivalent of "found footage": it is documentary in style, featuring objects, buildings and situations that existed before she came upon them, but which are stylistically her own have an almost painterly quality.

Each piece, reflective of the demise an institution or great manor house, tells its own sad story.

From running from security guards to hiding face down in the mud, read more stories of how Gina Soden came to make her art.

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Gina Soden: Retrogression is exhibited at The Groucho Club, London from tomorrow