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  • Writer's pictureStuart Jarvis

Concrete chronicles no.2.

Gravelly Hill Interchange, affectionately known as Spaghetti Junction.

I'm thankful for the support you've shown, whether it's through subscribing to my email list or following me on Instagram. It feels like the perfect moment to open up about the reasons I consistently find myself drawn back to a particular place, a spot I first stumbled upon in 1997 during my Bachelor of Arts course. It was then I ventured into this concrete jungle, and it's this initial exploration that has beckoned me back, time and again.


I want to guide you on my journey beneath the colossal layers of this concrete giant, where function converges with a strange unintended form.

Try and imagine standing underneath the immense structure of Spaghetti Junction, enveloped in a 360-degree panorama of towering concrete. This is not merely a visit; it's an invasion of senses, a dive into an ocean of grey where every wave is a curve of overpass and every current is a column of support. The sheer scale threatens to overwhelm, yet, in this vast expanse of grey, we find an unexpected canvas — a blank slate upon which the city paints its relentless narrative.

A Symphony in Concrete

Function meets form in an unintentional ballet of architectural necessity. Spaghetti Junction was never designed with aesthetics in mind, yet its overlapping structures coalesce, crossover, and form new negative shapes and geometries that beguile the eye. It's a place where linear perspective is not just observed but felt, punctuated by alternating pools of dark and light, offering an interplay of lines and forms, of strength and subtlety. Here, the convergence of lines forms potent perspectives, while textures—sometimes so subtle they're almost missed—give life to this behemoth of urban sprawl.

Beneath the stark, strong lines of liquid concrete that form giant, leg-like structures, there's a softer, more transient beauty. Litter, blown by indifferent winds, creates formless bodies at odds with the serene glide of a heron along the nearby canal, juxtaposing the natural with the man-made, the intentional with the accidental. It's a scene reminiscent of a John Steinbeck novel, yet marked by the scum and detritus of urban life, building up in corners and clustered against immovable structures.

Amidst this grey wasteland, graffiti emerges as vibrant slashes of colour—a territorial claim in fluorescent hues, an expression where expression is claimed impossible. It's a stark, beautiful contradiction: clumsy and illegible daubs of color punctuating the monochrome landscape, proving that even in the most desolate of settings, humanity seeks to leave its mark.

Every artist seeks inspiration in the world around them. Spaghetti Junction, in its colossal, grey complexity, might not fit the traditional definition of beauty. Yet, it encapsulates the essence of what it means to find art in the unexpected, to see wonder in the oversized maze of concrete that quietly, profoundly, narrates the tale of human ingenuity and the relentless progression of urban life.

So, the next time you find yourself rushing by or, perhaps, standing beneath the towering layers of Spaghetti Junction, take a moment to see with artist’s eyes. Discover the canvas hidden in plain sight, where the mundane becomes magnificent, and the everyday exudes an extraordinary allure. In the heart of industrial landscapes, art finds its raw, untamed expression, reminding us that there's beauty in every corner of our world, waiting to be uncovered, celebrated, and shared.

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