A Glimpse into Urban Decay: Reviewing James Birkin’s Forsaken Exhibition

Born and raised in Coventry, James Birkin brings forth a unique narrative of neglect in his exhibition, ‘Forsaken’. Displayed at The LTB Showrooms, this retrospective intertwines paintings from Birkin’s Urban Neglect Series. It Featured his exploration of the abandoned Generations nightclub, dormant from 2003 until its demolition in 2014.

Having attended the private viewing on October 19th, I was immersed—in a lively ambience marked by music from a video loop and available drinks. The synchronicity between the venue and the exhibition’s theme was striking. It had emphasized the long neglect depicted in the upper floors, repurposed as storage for years.

As a fervent enthusiast of the urban exploration movement, I found that the exhibition resonated with me. It offers a compelling blend of facades, weather-dismantled skeletons, and ravaged interiors from forgotten buildings. The hidden destruction and treasures within deserted spaces showcased a rich tapestry of urban decay.

According to Birkin, “Exploring deserted buildings unveils hidden destruction and treasures, a theme intricately woven into the fabric of ‘Forsaken.'”

While the subject matter, venue, and overall vibe resonated positively, I questioned Birkin’s stylistic choices. Some images’ absence of people and distinctive framing felt reminiscent of Hopper. This left me contemplating the most effective way to capture the essence of neglect.

My exploration continued beyond the gallery. I ventured to capture night shots of the darkened spaces in their partial state of decay. This experience prompted reflections on composition, style, and artistic consistency, adding an intriguing layer to my appreciation of Birkin’s work.

Forsaken Final Thoughts

Considering Birkin’s use of “series,” each painting contributes to a larger narrative. It became evident that his consistent style ties together seamlessly. While technically commendable, the exhibition’s flat stylistic approach left me pondering its efficacy in portraying urban decay. In conclusion, for those drawn to a documentary-style portrayal of urban neglect.

Discover More…

View more about the Mustard Club Series.

View more about the Urban Neglect Series

Review Score

Rating the show 3 out of 5 stars, James Birkin’s ‘Forsaken’ offers a captivating exploration of urban decay. Thus providing a unique perspective on forgotten narratives within Coventry’s neglected spaces.

3.0 rating

Photographs by Emily Tyler. Stock Photo by Whitney Museum of American Art. | © 2023 Coventry Life.


  • Emily Tyler

    Having studied at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance for my BA (Hons) in Stage Management, I worked within the theatres in London until I moved to Coventry in 2010 and found that I needed other creative outlets. Using Photography I explored my new city and discovered a love of architecture, which led me to start playing with editing software on my iPad, and the use of the Apple Pencil meant that I started creating digital artwork. I joined a local blogging group, to meet new people and rediscover my love of writing which had been lost over the years. I enjoyed reviewing local restaurants, bars, as well as one-off events like coffee festivals and music.

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