Dan “Rook” Flewelling captures the abandoned Strathmartine Hospital on film (photos taken prior to new COVID restrictions)
My name’s Dan, a lot of you know me as Rook. Film photography for me is a ritual. It’s a completely different organism from digital photography in every sense except the eventual product. The challenge of having to set every parameter manually within a limited range of ISO (the film’s sensitivity to light) and only knowing how a shot came out sometimes weeks after taking it, keeps me excited and adventurous. I value the experience and intent behind the photos I take far more than the finished photo. I don’t even have social media or a photography page anymore haha.
A lot of my everyday surroundings feel bland. I try and make the best of it and see the value in trying to reimagine the world around me… but I don’t want to be a tourist. Some of the photos I hate the most, which, I reluctantly admit, are photos I’ve taken a lot of growing up, are landmarks. I never look back at them, nobody’s gonna look at them, and everyone and their mom has taken the exact same photo themselves. Exploring abandoned places like Strathmartine yields so much more character and meaning than any city centre I’ve been to. It feels like I’ve fallen through a backdoor in society. Getting to go with friends you like, sharing the same experience while escaping the grips of day to day life makes it ten times better.
Strathmartine Hospital was established in 1855 as an orphanage, hospital, and mental asylum for children. It initially began as a single building but over the following century grew to the 15+ buildings it encompasses now. From the mid-1980s, the hospital was slowly decommissioned, before closing entirely in 2003. Several buildings have since been torn down, the oldest of which due to the death of an exploring teenager. In 2015, one of the buildings got set on fire, leaving most of the building standing but the roof was completely torn off (most of the photos are from this building). Plans have been made for the demolition of the campus but hard-set dates have yet to be named.