Remains of the day spotted

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A BLUE dress lies on a neatly made bed in an abandoned house somewhere in Tasmania.

The isolated farmhouse was left some years ago, to be disembowelled by the slow creep of nature and time.

Layers of grime have taken hold of its walls, books lay strewn, rotting debris lines the floors, and a telephone is found off the hook, its curly cord dangling over a kitchen bench.

All this has been viewed through the lens of a Hobart hobby photographer, who wants only to be known by his pseudonym, Urbexography.

When the blue dress is mentioned, bewilderment and sadness can be heard in his voice.

"I don't know what went on in that house," Urbexography said.

"It looked like it could've been a place of immense happiness at one point, but when we went there, it looked like the person had ended up very isolated and very lonely, perhaps with no human contact, no family or friends.

"The house just ended up in a state of - you can see in the pictures how it ended up. It was like they had gone a bit deranged in the end, and were living in absolute chaos.

"A dress was even left laid on the bed and we just completely freaked out. I have no idea if that person died in the house. I really don't know."

It is this mystery that has captured the imaginations of photographers around the world, who are entering abandoned buildings, disused theme parks and derelict manors, recording what they see.

Known as ruin photography, ruin porn, and urban exploration or the "urbex" movement, this photographic subculture presents images that leave the mind wandering.

Viewers are fascinated by the patterns of urban and domestic decay; the surreal beauty of deserted man- made structures melted by the weather, and eroded by a lack of maintenance or care.

A quick search on Instagram under various urbex titles reveals a multitude of alluring images featuring disused buildings and industrial sites, including hotels, churches and schools, where once grandiose walls are marred by peeling paints and broken tiles.

In the US, a whole city has been abandoned by economic turmoil, giving rise to ruin porn tourism, and hordes of "urban explorers" who seek to outsmart hired security for the thrill of the snap.

Reasons behind the urban exploration trend vary.

It may simply be for the feelings of eerie sadness, horror or adrenaline felt by photographers and viewers, but it is also about the recording of physical histories before buildings are knocked down, or the telling of stories from the past.

US urbex blogger Matthew Christopher from the website Abandoned America said in an interview with JoAnn Grego of The Atlantic Cities: "I'd like the viewer to step back just a bit and to see the horror story that's implicit in the image - these pictures document physical conditions that are the direct consequences of failed economies."

Urbex opportunity in Tasmania

Urbexography said he strictly adhered to the codes of the urbex movement, which is to capture photographs and leave footprints only.

The 47-year old said he would never reveal the locations of the places he photographed, and would be devastated if people trashed them after seeing his work.

He said his photographic hobby was mostly motivated by history.

"No one vandalises anything, you find your way in, whether that is by permission or not, and you capture what you find. I'm really big on respect, regardless of how dilapidated the places are," he said.

"Part of the experience is to just stand there for a moment, before you go in, trying to experience what went on 50 or 60, or sometimes even 100 years ago, and you try and imagine how people lived.

"I've been to one house which was probably a three or four-bedroom home that apparently was lived in by a couple with their 11 kids. There were fireplaces in every room, a big old cooker, and they had land for crops and cattle and meat, and they would've been self-sufficient."

Urbexography said every house or industrial site that he had entered had its own vibe.

"The decay is always different. Some of them are holding up whereas others are completely collapsing," he said.

"You get lots of vines and weeds growing through windows and doors, and every one has its own smell.

"Some have furniture, and some don't, and quite often you can look at the wallpaper and pick up dates and get a few clues of what happened.

"There is an 1800s home, which is very remote, and every time I go into the house I get an uneasy vibe - you just get this feeling like there is a presence, that something happened there.

"I've tried to research it to see if anything happened in there, but I haven't found anything."

He said there were always a few surprises.

"I've stirred a couple of possums before that have squawked at me, which has completely freaked me out, and I went into one laundry and found a dead cow.

"There have also been a couple of really gross fridges."

At the place where his hobby first started, which was at the former Willow Court mental asylum at New Norfolk in the State's South - Urbexography said he felt a certain moodiness at the site.

It was this, combined with a fascination for history, that started Urbexography's urbex journey.

"I went about three years ago and there was some amazing stuff in there - beds, an ECT machine, lockers with names on them, and the scattered clothes of the patients which still had their names sewn on the shirts.

"On one of the top wards there was a well known patient who used to chew on the wood in the windows, and all of the windows on that level were all chewed out.

"You can't look at that and not feel something - to stand there and look at the view, and imagine a patient who lay there for God knows how long, chewing on the window, and peering out."

Urbexography said he was open to suggestions for other places where he could capture his art, and wanted to plan trips to the North and North West.

To contact Urbexography or view his other collections visit his Facebook page: Urbexography.

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