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Tent of Blue ~ Harperbury

Josephine Pugh

Ware, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Window reaching up to the sky inside abandoned Harperbury Asylum, Radlett.

Dedicated to my bro

Wilde wrote:

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its ravelled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

Excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’.

Featured in the ‘Just Lines’ group, June 2010.

Featured in the ‘Moody and Evocative’ group, June 2010.

Featured in ‘The X Factor’ group, January 2011.

Harperbury was one of the ‘London 5’ asylums or ‘colonies’ built to ‘house’ London’s burgeoning ‘mental defectives’ or ‘insane’ (the preferred terms of the time).

Harperbury was built in the 1920s to house c.2,000 people in male, female and (unusually) child ‘villas’. It is in a semi-rural location surrounded by fields; to keep the inhabitants in or to keep the mentally ill out of sight for the public?

Harperbury had a school on site too for children we would now class as having Autism, Downs Syndrome, Epilepsy and so on. Large parts of the site are now derelict and totally abandoned.

This image forms part of a series of shots on Redbubble from my explorations of this site. Please do have a browse.

There is a large amount of information about Harperbury on the internet. An excellent article can be found here This article details the story of someone who worked at the Asylum.

An aerial view of the site can be seen by entering the postcode WD7 9HQ into Google Maps (or similar).

Artwork Comments

  • JodieT
  • Anne Staub
  • Josephine Pugh
  • Tania Palermo
  • Anthony Mancuso
  • Josephine Pugh
  • walela
  • Steve Falla
  • Richard Pitman
  • Lynne Haselden
  • dasSuiGeneris
  • Larry Lingard-Davis
  • Josephine Pugh
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