Living In/ Living Out

George Phoonkin Khut, Miranda Morris and Martin Walch


“In Walch’s series of photographs of the Royal Derwent Hospital, Tasmania’s earliest psychiatric institution, there is a poignant and sometimes chilling atmosphere created by the absence of the human figure.  Living In, Living Out was a collaborative art installation project between Martin Walch, writer Miranda Morris and sound designer George Poonkhin Khut.  It was developed in 1998 during the last months the Royal Derwent’s operation, when very few patients remained.  The project was installed in the prison-like interior of the high security “C” ward with Walch’s stereoscopes mounted in the viewing holes of the doors.  He presented images of vacant rooms, empty beds, silent televisions and deserted corridors in a way that expressed his emotional responses. He achieved this by primarily focusing on unique light and architecture of the spaces.

In Ward_1_Royal_Derwent_Hospital_New_Norfolk_1998_#1, soft light filters in to a large bedroom through curtained windows, casting intricate patterns of light and shadow on the empty beds. The atmosphere seems tranquil, still and calm. In High_Security_Ward_7_Royal_Derwent_Hospital_New_Norfolk_1998, the viewer stares down a long corridor in a high security ward. The space glows with an eerie green light, the locked and numbered doors disappear into the distance towards the brilliant light pouring through the window…..”                      Briony Nainby 2003.