I always tell people – and it bears repeating – that one of the things I love about photography is that my camera is a passport into worlds other people can’t easily see. It makes me a modern-day explorer. I may not always be the first to see a place, but I’m the first to see it my way. Last weekend I did some urbex – urban exploration.
I’ve been doing an ongoing project for a company that occupies a quite large piece of industrial land here in Dunedin. During some down time I explored some derelict buildings that were on site. At first I wondered exactly what it was I was wandering around, but had a strong feeling it was a school, since the modernist shapes of the buildings were eerily similar to my old high school, Kingswell High in Invercargill – an S68 design by the old Ministry of Works, rooted very much in the late 60s and early 70s.
It turns out that I was right. This was once Kenmure Intermediate. It opened in 1974, three years after Kingswell, and closed less that 25 years later – merging with Kaikorai valley High on a nearby site in 1997. For such a contemporary set of buildings, it really is dilapidated. As I looked around, it seemed like a powerful metaphor for the shortcomings many people see in the education reforms of recent governments. It’s a sad and depressing place, and I suppose it would appear more so if you ever spent your happy pre-teen years here. For me the odd thing is that it’s only really been empty for a couple of years. I’ve been told it’s been used by the police armed offenders squad as a training location.
I guess it’s good to be prepared for Armageddon.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Tomorrow’s Schools, today.
Did you go to school at Kenmure? Got any special memories? Leave a comment below.