Mental Health Awareness Month

October 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I figured since it's Mental Health Awareness Month it's a perfect time to revisit an old photo shoot at an abandoned mental hospital.

IMG_9894IMG_9894 In 2011 I went to check out the Swanbourne Mental Hospital with a couple of friends one of which was about to be my "mental patient". The hospital was originally known as the Claremont Hospital for the Insane. In 1891, the colonial government began the process of designing a new facility to replace the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, which was already becoming overcrowded. Colonial architect George Temple-Poole gave evidence to an 1891 Select Committee inquiry and strongly urged the construction of a new and much larger hospital in "an airy situation, as far from the town as convenient". Poole also favoured the "pavilion" system: discrete self-contained blocks connected by a corridor. Each "pavilion" was designed for a separate group of patients – quiet and industrious, violent and noisy, epileptic, sick and infirm, or convalescent. The hospital was open from 1903 and by 1966 it was home to nearly 1700 long term psychiatric patients. The hospital was closed in 1985 with parts demolished. In 2013 the site was bought by Aegis Aged Care and they renovated one building to home 80 residents. One of the cooler things to find out though was the next time I saw my aunt after visiting this place she told me how my mum had played there in the 70's when she was in a Scottish pipe band. I wish there were pictures!

While we were visiting we got a bit too busy exploring the areas we could get into that we forgot to take photos for the most part, and sadly some of the photos taken have been lost. No idea how, it's just a skill I have for losing random photos. Most of the hospital was empty except for a handful of chairs and one hospital bed. One room was mostly furnished but locked up. That was probably the weirdest part of the whole experience. One room had a dead pigeon missing its head. The skull was there, but that's it. It was a skull on its body. I'll spare you the photo I took of it but you should know they have TINY skulls!! One huge room which I'm guessing was a hall at some point had creepy puppets (for lack of a better word) lying around and a massive pile of bank deposit books. We're talking a couple hundred books.

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Did you even urbex if you didn't take a selfie in a broken mirror?

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The Patient

The whole idea behind this shoot was "oooooh abandoned mental asylum" and someone owning a straight jacket. That's it. I did a bit of a re-edit on them. There was nothing particularly wrong with the originals, they were just super yellow-orangey because I didn't know how to colour correct photos properly back then. Not that you can tell here, they're all black and white, but I figured a super old building such as this should have super old looking they're black and white. Colour photography wasn't really accessible to everyone until the 1970's so it makes sense to me!

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"No Offence But You're Fucked In The Head, Right?" prints are available in the store.




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