This is part of what used to be called the Callan Park Hospital For The Insane in the Sydney suburb of Rozelle. I spent many hours running around the grounds in the dark last night, and whilst it was a fascinating experience, as the wind blew harder, the place got colder and was absolutely deserted; I was scared witless.
Located on over 100 acres and Heritage Listed, the hospital operated as an asylum from 1914 until 1994. It lies on prime land, right on the waterfront and contains many beautiful old buildings built in the Victorian style. For this reason, since it was decommissioned, there have been several development companies eyeing it off to build their soul-less apartments on. Thanks to the Friends of Callan Park Action Group, the developers have lost the battle, but we may yet lose the war. At the moment, part of it is occupied by the Sydney University Visual Arts faculty and the Writers' Centre. Many of the buildings are uninhabited, derelict and fenced off.
In New South Wales, many of its old psychiatric hospitals are situated on the water. This is because until the early 20th Century it was illegal to transport patients by road.
Many psychiatric hospitals have been ruined by the current government "thinking" which says that people suffering from a mental illness should not live "in house" and should be sent out into the community to rehabilitate. Personally I disagree with this thinking, like Craig (who as you know is a psychiatric nurse) I see the terrible results of this policy: homelessness, an increase in suicide, lack of follow-up in the community, criminal offending and re-offending and a frustrating difficulty in obtaining treatment and care for people at risk.
Critiques | Translate
macondo (18461) 2013-08-18 4:16
What happened? One minute your photo is right next to mine in the gallery, and I'm writing about how it had to happen eventually, and a long critique, and the next, your photo has somehow moved three places to the left and my critique didn't go through! Weird.
Anyway, I was commending you on the spooky atmosphere of this blue hour shot, which makes the old building look quite ghostly. Which is somehow appropriate, as the inmates often become ghosts in the community when they're chucked out.
Of course, the governments like a policy which has the side benefit, if not the ulterior motive, of allowing them to sell of prime real estate to developers who pull down the deserted buildings and erect apartments for empty nesters and the like. Which is what happened with the old Kew Cottages here in Melbourne.
Noel_Byrne (13416) 2013-08-18 4:26
I just read your comment on my St Senans shot, so a real pleasure to ramble into the gallery and find this here.
The wind whispers slowly through the trees, in the distance a howl goes out from woods. As I approach the door of the abandoned asylum, I hear a knock from the upstairs window.....a persistent knock like somebody trying to get my attention...
hahaha, I look at this shot and a million stories come to mind, so I can well imagine that when you were here, your hackles were raised at the potential for spookiness. This is a very imposing building, and its design reminds me a little of the Vanacut institute in the movie House on Haunted Hill (it looks nothing like it, but the very prominent central part gives the same vibe). A real bonus that you managed to catch this under that beautiful chilling blue sky with a good old werewolf moon, but even better still that it seems the last rays of the sun are lighting up the façade perfectly.
I like that the lights in the building have the ghostly green hue too, whoever set them up was I reckon trying to set a real mood here.
On a more serious note though, I agree with you and what you say in your note, it is a shame that these places are all left to the elements while the occupants are left to fend for themselves. The idea of a community where people could feel safe is a great one, its just a shame that when so many countries did it so wrong that they seem to have given up on the idea. There are still some open in Ireland, but for the most part are seriously off limits, so no idea what the treatment is like inside. I can only hope its better than the legacy of these kind of places.
All the best
Sergiom (45527) 2013-08-18 4:27
Scary story. We live the same problem in Canada. We dod emptied our hospitals but we filled our street with people who are not always there.
The composition is good. I like this blue hour.
Have a great day
williewhistler (9875) 2013-08-18 4:34
I guess that the trusty bodyguard was close at hand because this does have the appearance of a spooky spot and you have portrayed it just so,the heavy shadows and silhouetted railings give real atmosphere to a very well considered shot with the moon adding to the mood.
Kindest wishes Les.
snunney (72762) 2013-08-18 4:40
Interesting note to accompany this well presented composition. I am not sure about France, but certainly much controversy surrounds the Care in the Community programme adopted in the UK in the wake of closing down the many Victorian mental hospitals. No doubt it does work and is preferable for some patients but not all are suited and/or don't have the necessary support.
abmdsudi (32515) 2013-08-18 4:52
The matching colour contrast of blue and brown works best here in pretty night shot and the moon lit boosts the overall impact imho, It's well shot with good definition and this makes this image pop even more but darkness in the fg creates the eerie feel and surreal at the same time. Such a special moment captured strikingly, Congrats
timecapturer (37152) 2013-08-18 5:28
this is so macjake-ish, not just in its setting but also in the notes that accompany it. It is spooky and Bates Motel-ish too! Your POV is so effective at creating the mood and considering the history of this place effective too. It is a distinctive building that has so much character and style. Not sure I would want to live inside it considering its previous use though.
Have to agree with your thoughts about current thinking by placing vulnerable people back in the community. It happens here in the UK too and creates the same problems. It also heightens the feeling of an uncaring society which is probably not the case most of the time. Politicians need to listen to the people rather than blindly believing they know what we want...........................................:-#
Enjoy a peaceful Sunday - Brian.
ikeharel (44081) 2013-08-18 5:54
Not such a scary place, Lisa, rather quiet and illuminated.
Good night photojob, as usual, note very informative, and I certainly hope you are not planning on yet another nights stroll there...
Fine pic. collected and applied.
Have a nice week ahead,
emka (64182) 2013-08-18 13:45
I read your interesting note but I can't guess who is Annie? (Probably from movies or a book that I do not know).
This is very much in Craig's style. He likes such spooky places. In fact, this is your note that make it so. Without it we see the pink house with some light on inside, maybe the dark stairs not quite inviting. I do not know the situation in Poland, but I have never heard about closing the hospitals, so probably they are just like they were.
With a Craig's stories, now your notes are like from thrillers :)
carlo62 (19485) 2013-08-18 15:58
la nota è molto interessante e tocca un argomento molto serie e complesso, da una parte il problema dei malati e dall'altra il problema delle costruzioni.
Non so proprio cosa pensare, è veramente difficile, di sicuro gli incaricati non dovrebbero pensare ai propri interessi, ma a quelli della comunità, ma purtroppo quasi mai è così.
La tua bella foto è uno buona scusa per ragionare su questi problemi, ma è anche un bel documento.
jjcordier (67292) 2013-08-18 23:26
Une note très intéressante que tu as illustrée par cette belle photo nocturne de cet hôpital à l'aspect très austère.
macjake (45588) 2013-08-19 0:48
Oh boy, where do i even start with this one!
First of all what the heck are you doing peeping around a psych hospital at night!!! Lol
Maybe YOU are the one who's forgotten to take their meds lol
Similar to what you said to Noel, when you visit Van i'll take you to Riverview Hospital. See our creepy psych facility. The one here though looks pristine and Castle-like....not what i'd expect. Maybe its just this pov?
I could easily go on a 5 page rant about the stupidity of local governments and their lack of treatment/funding for the severely mentally ill, but i wont for a change. I know you read my note to Noel, and we all share the same thoughts.
You should see how well the psych residents do at Riverview!!!! Then see how quickly the decompensate out in the communities!!!
Riverview is their home and they feel welcomed there with all the other hundreds of residents. They even have a dance each year at the community hall!!! How awesome is that! As nurses we have to attend aswell, and its a blast :)
They also have a bowling alley there :)
.even the mentally ill need and desire affection/love. At Riverview they have a specific room set up where 2 consenting adults can have intimate relations, condoms are provided. Each resident must fit certain requirements of course, and must be stable enough, but it works.....there has never been any 'situations' or problems with this set up. And obviously the residents love it.
But now all of that is taken away. Our Riverview usd to have over 1000 residents, now its below 200 and quickly lowering each year...it wont be long until its totally gone.
What a shame indeed.
I should stop before i get more into this. Lets hope this place near Sydney doesnt fallinto the same despair.
Excellent post for TE.
SnapRJW (23704) 2013-08-19 4:42
Hello Lisa - Hats off to you for having the necessaries to walk about in a deserted, defunct asylum and environs during the hours of darkness. Thanks to for you very good note which continues an interesting discussion started by Craig some while ago.
I have been thinking about the whole concept of psychiatric hospitals and care of the mentally ill. So few of us have any meaningful idea of ‘in-house’ care for patients or the insurmountable nature of many mental patients disorders or the most optimum care and treatment scenarios.
Most likely ‘most people’ have an ingrained ‘idea’ of a mental health facility as something Dickensian and totally squalid, let’s face it many institutions were less than ideal. Given that basis for decision making ‘care in the community’ sounds a whole lot better and if it saves money too what a way to go!
My overriding opinion is that ‘most people’ have no clue about mental health issues unless they have personal experience themselves through a friend, family member etc. “Mental Asylums” and “inmates “ had (and probably still have) a stigma attached to them. Think of the ‘fear’ and jokes associated with such people and places. Until we have good general understanding about mental health issues and the concomitant compassion, I fear that good care will become less and less available as money is spent in other directions and thousands of people will fall through the cracks.
A fine image, well managed in all respects but it is the note and discussion that wins the day here. TFS dear Lisa.
lousat (64243) 2013-08-19 14:23
Ciao Lisa,una foto simbolica pensando ai malati di mente,anche in Italia i manicomi sono stati chiusi molti anni fa e si sono avuti gli stessi pessimi risultati,ed io ne ho conosciuti molti di matti avendo il bar...ehehe...grande foto con la luce giusta come una metafora...buon Martedi' e complimenti,Luciano
fabbs99 (11190) 2013-08-19 22:47
Namaste ! I like this shot very much. Nixe colors and sharpness.TFS.
krzychu30 (12759) 2013-08-20 1:57
I´ll start with the quality of the image-it´s really superb!Hand held,ISO1600 and the quality is better than in many pictures where we used a tripod.
I like also perspective you used to capture the scene.Together with the moody light it creates kind of scary atmosphere here.
And finally your important and interesting note-sad to see so beautiful buildings falling into ruin and how the people who need help are even more excluded by the government.
Wish You all the best
Gigidusud (10302) 2013-08-21 2:24
Ciao cara Lisa,
Un bel tiro di questa architettura all'ora blu e un grande resoconto. In effetto, rimane un problema serio condivido la tua opinione. Bravissima!
photoray (6690) 2013-08-21 12:08
Disturbing night view of the insane asylum and historical note. The block construction is highlighted by the darkness lit by moonlight.
Back in the early 70s, California Governor Reagan (who was later to become president), ended the state hospital program and many patients were forced onto the streets with no support.
Anyway, good candid revealation and journalism,
bayno (18338) 2013-08-24 2:41
Cara Lisa...innanzitutto buona permanenza in Europa...
hai intavolato un tema scottante e complicato...con la mente umana ognuno dice la sua....anche riguardo le strutture...non mi pronuncio a riguardo altrimenti serve qualche pagina...
molto bella invece la blu hours e la definizione nonostante sia uno scatto a mano libera....il prossimo post assolutamente humoristico ;)))))
un caro abbraccio...
ChrisJ (91292) 2013-08-30 11:50
A good blue hour shot with excellent sharpness and a superb upward pov. Good warm cold color contrasts between the red sandstone and the blue sky. Nice silhouettes in the fg. The moon is a bonus. The yellow lights contrast well against the blue. Tfs!
ifege (9909) 2013-09-13 0:41
I'm back from WA and back into TE.
The old buildings of Callan Park make up one of my favourite inner city places for a wander. Such history and many, many stories. Haven't been at the time you took your great photo - a classic blue hour one caprturing the atmosphere of the place.
Silvio1953 (105599) 2013-09-28 4:18
Ciao Lisa, buon ritorno in Australia, favolosa ora blu, gran luce, ti hanno scritto tutti note chilometriche io ti dico solo buon week end e brava, un abbraccio Silvio
gervaso (9247) 2013-09-30 8:30
Wonderful blue hour shot, with the moon in the dark sky to make it even more beautiful! Excellent colors and sharpness! Very good light management! Beautiful job!
ourania (18704) 2013-09-30 11:11
Hello dear Lisa,
welcome back on TE! I hope, or rather I'm sure you've had a wonderful time during your long holidays and I'm looking forward to seeing your new photos! This picture is simple and suggestive at the same time. There's absolute calmness and stillness in the atmosphere but your note evokes an underlying intensity that's captivating. Your light management is wonderful. Excellent details mingle with dense shadows and the perspective of the stairway is both inviting and scary. Congratulations and thank you!
Leros had (because now it has dramatically declined) one of the most notorious Psychiatric hospitals in Greece -and in Europe, perhaps. It started in the late '50s, was revealed to be a huge disgrace in the early '90s and became exemplary from the mid '90s onwards. Here the rehabilitation worked, I think due to the closeness of the community, the employment of many people for the care of the mentally ill people in specially constructed or rented houses, the will to erase the haunting memories of past practises. I'm sure it isn't the same in a big city and with insufficient financing. Our haunted building is a huge, impersonal relic of the Italocracy, for many years now empty, despised and unvisitable due to its bad condition. I'll show it to you one day.
All the best, have a great month,
papagolf21 (79582) 2013-09-30 11:36
Dans le bleu du ciel et la lune pour témoin, l'hôpital dresse fièrement son architecture.
Il émane une ambiance toute particulière de la composition.
Royaldevon (21517) 2013-09-30 14:37
This certainly sends a chill down the spine. The house looks like an empty face, barring its teeth, and, of course, the moon is ghostly behind it. A sharp blue hour shot, full of atmosphere!
I had a similar experience with people being housed in the community. I taught an inhouse group of 'special needs' students at an evening class for English. I liked them immensely and they certainly pushed the boundaries when it came to learning techniques. Some of these students, however, were taken into the wider community to learn to live and cater for themselves. They were seriously exploited by opportunists, had their money and goods taken and ended up in misery!
Nice to see you back, again,
mirosu (8186) 2013-10-01 19:49
I was missing you and your nice photos here. Where have you been?
I like this photo, the low angle viewpoint is very good, and the building is excellently contrasting against steel blue sky. Only I wish the moon was a bit larger, but I know such wish is outside our power. I like the photo, well done.
Sonata11 (31245) 2013-10-01 20:35
Hi dear Lisa,
beautiful composition of this architecture. Perfect executed image and presentation. Wonderfully done. I like the colors, sharpness, clarity. Perfectly well done.
All the best,
danos (78134) 2013-10-02 3:21
nice to see you in the site although with this old photo.I like this section of the Callan Park hospital,with the shot taken the blue hour,the most beautiful hour of the day.I like the light and the colour management as the architectural style of the building.
mkamionka (27089) 2013-10-03 2:02
lovely building and a great atmosphere captured. The moon adds also a nice touch here. It feels full of mystery.
Great to see you back,
jcpix (6596) 2013-10-04 21:19
A real shame that such useful and necessary facilities would be squandered and rendered useless for the many that rely on their services. I have to wonder though if they might open their doors to accept you, thinking that you might be in some need of dire attention from running around the grounds by yourself in the dark around an empty site!? :)
Did you special order this lighting, it almost looks like it could be a studio stage...amazing! The blue hour sky and the earthy tones of the building with the days last natural light, combined with the artificial lights is a smashing capture of colors from the transition of day to night. Your efforts have paid off, and it's nice that you've kept this facility alive through photography. Have a great weekend, take it easy.
Cheers from PHX,