Architecture, Melbourne, Photography

Vale Banksia College

Banksia College was a high school that I went and photographed over 12 months ago.  It was closed a few years ago and the vandals got into it.  Not much left when I went to take photos.

It is no longer there and has been pulled down.  The school is just a memory now, so today I thought I might revisit the photos I took of it.  They are art images, and when I look at them now, they are a bit heavy handed, perhaps I will try redoing them one day, but not today.


  1. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    I bet it was a nice building at one time.

  2. I reallyu like the lighting in this series, especially the interiors. Not hevay-handed to me. Interesting to see you have graffiti vandalism Down Under.

    • Thank you, the lighting was just what was there, which is nice too. Oh yes, we have that down here, everywhere, unfortunately. I just don’t understand why people want to be that destructive.

  3. They have a depressing feel to them. I hope that, apart from quite a pleasing entrance, there wasn’t much in the college worth preserving. And that a BETTER use is being made of the space.

    • That is good I think, I like that feeling, the feeling of loneliness too, I hope. There really wasn’t after the vandals got in there, it would have cost too much to restore it. It has been pulled down now, the land will go to some developer to split up and sell for houses. So the school will be replaced with heaps of modern homes with no personality for young families, who when it is time for their children to go to school, will have to go a long way because yet another school has been closed. I will get off my soap box now. Thanks Colonialist.

      • Yuck, double yuck, triple yuck. You have to wonder sometimes. We had two schools in our area, the state government decided to close one, we didn’t need two, now the only one we have is bursting at the seams. Guess what they did with the land where the previous one was?

      • As I looked at these photos memories of my girls standing on the stage there, from graduating primary school, to plays and productions they might have been involved in one way or another or through friends, the excitement they felt, the sense of community gathering there came back to me.
        And the artist gatherings for the arts shows we conversed about and were put on there.
        These photos were to me quite sad when juxtaposed with that memory.

      • It is very sad, and I know exactly what you mean, it is quite strange. I just can’t believe they have torn down what seemed like a perfectly good school. Thanks Christina.

    • I had to look that term up Pieter, never heard it before, but I really like it, and I think I will have to add it my dictionary. Thank you.

  4. They are incredible. I need a thesaurus for commenting on your work…glorious, beautiful, rich, deep, intriguing, mysterious…I love them! :D

  5. The shell of what was once was a place alive with human activity is now a perfect site for light to rearrange itself in the decay of the past.

  6. I really like the feel of these photos – excellent work. Our local primary school closed a couple of years back. It was a great little school community with a wonderful, caring and inclusive atmosphere that was replaced by a ‘super school’ with all sorts of bullying and behavioural problems. Ah, progress.

    • You have to wonder sometimes where the sense is, and why such decisions are made. We picked a primary school for our children that was small because we didn’t want them to feel overwhelmed and so they wouldn’t get “lost”, it was a good decision, but governments don’t tend to look at things the same way. It is such a shame. Progress, you have to ask, for who.
      Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. There is a point at which tagging becomes more than just vandalism. A critical mass, if you will, beyond which it becomes textural, and aesthetically interesting, even pleasing. I would love to shoot in this place, even more if some of the artists were present.

    • I don’t like tagging, I like graffiti, but I don’t like people just tagging everything, it is just putting their name over everything, I am not a fan. I like it when they are true artists and do some wonderful things, even simple things, then the taggers come along and scribble their name over it. Sorry, I am not a fan of it. It would be interesting, sadly it is gone now, the ground getting ready for new houses. Thanks for your thoughts David.

    • I have to say, I feel a sense of loneliness when I look at them, it just doesn’t seem right that a school would be that empty. Thank you Mary.

  8. Great, moody images Leanne….I don’t think they are heavy handed, I think the shots suit the subject and the lighting.

    • Thank you Sue, I am glad you find them okay, I did these around the time I was exploring this sort of processing.

    • It is such a waste RoSy, they could have done something with it long before it got like this, it could have been an amazing community centre. Too short sighted our governments can be. Thank you.

  9. One of your best sets ever Leanne. You have made this place seem like it has a life of its own. Love the darkness and starkness of all of it.

  10. All great shots and a wonderful location. They fit your style and they work for me. I think that they give more of the atmosphere of an abandoned place – something that I feel that i loose too often in my abandoned work – Not my call, but I’d be most happy with these images.

    • That is fantastic Robert, I have been waiting to hear what you thought of them, it is something that I know you like to photograph. I did a lot of work to these, to try and help get that feeling, I didn’t want them to look cheery, but rather sad and lonely. Perhaps that is the thing I am good at, making things look sad and alone. LOL. thank you.

  11. jsleflore says

    These photos are amazing, I mean I can imagine it as a high school but I think your shot adds character. To me it looks a bit artsy and I love photographs that that kind of has that edge. Your Perspective is flawless in these shots.

  12. Leanne, I really like these a lot. The darkness suits them, as do the almost-monotones you went with. There’s just enough vibrancy—but it’s…well, not menacing, but not sunshine and lollipops, either. It’s very well suited to the subject matter. 5419 and 5459 are my favourites—the old equipment is askew and tossed about as if by a storm. These are just terrific—to my mind you’ve done them perfectly!

    It is fascinating to me that the building was torn down do quickly. Was it a public danger or was the land already spoken for?

    • Thank you Jen, I like what you have said, and it was the look I was going for, I like how lonely the building looks too.
      It has been closed for a few years, but was only torn down this year, so it did take a while. I don’t think they knew what to do with it. I have heard houses will be built on it, sadly.

  13. You captured the vandalism along with the light and shadows and brought an empty building to life.

  14. Leanne, this series is unreal! I don’t think they’re heavy handed at all. In fact, I think the style suits the images quite well. I love these kinds of buildings.

    • Thank you Shane, I sometimes think the blurring is a little heavy, and perhaps I should have made it less, which is probably the only thing I would change.

  15. Wonderful photos, Leanne. What once stood proud and majestic has been destroyed by human anger. I’ll never understand why people derive pleasure from destruction. Anyway, I have to ask, do you go to these places alone?

    • I will never understand it either Linda, it is too weird. Thank you Linda.
      No, I would never go alone to these places, you just never who might be there. I’m not scared for myself, but I don’t want anyone stealing my gear.

      • No way, I like my camera too much, it is insured, but still, who wants the hassle, especially when you think about the type of people who would live in them. I might be being paranoid, but I don’t care, always go with someone. Then there is the safety aspect, what if you fall in a hole, or the roof caves in on you, you want some else there that can get help.

  16. lmarea3070 says

    Do you ever get scared going into places like this?

  17. Loooove these photos! I love looking at photos of abandoned buildings. As sad as they can be sometimes, I always find something beautiful about them as well. I love thinking about all the stories the buildings must hold.

    • I don’t think you are alone in looking at abandoned buildings, many people feel the same way, and photographers seem to love photographing them. Thank you.

    • I do too, we don’t have many of them here, if they can be knocked down so more houses can be built, then that is what happens.

  18. Too bad another purpose could not be found for the school, considering the level of thought put into the architecture.

    • I feel the same way, I can’t help thinking that it would have been a great community centre, where they could have a gallery, for artists, and then there were all those classrooms that classes could have been taught in. Apparently houses are more important.

      • Locally, we had a school building in the south part of Colorado Springs from the 1890s that sat idle after being closed in the late 1960s. It sat empty for a long while, with a lot of projects to redevelop the building. Many of those projects did not advance from the drawing board. But in the late 1990s, the building was sold and redeveloped as loft-style apartment building. It may not be the best repurposing, but at least it didn’t get torn down.

      • Yes, I think you are right, at least it wasn’t torn down. I suspect they knew if they left the building long enough that vandals would get in and just destroy the place, which is pretty much was happened. It was probably cheaper to tear it down. I live in an area that has a rich artistic history, but you wouldn’t think so when you see what our local council does for the community. It is so sad, that the artistic history isn’t carried in the present and the future.

  19. AdLibber says

    It’s raw and honest. Evokes a sense of nostalgia in an artful and insightful way. No apologies. Just things the way the are now and memories intact. Hauntingly beautiful pictures.

  20. I absolutely love these photos! Each one has such a story behind them, you can imagine each one as it once was compared to the state you shot them in. Amazing! :)

  21. Hi Leanne, I would say leave them as they are. I love a bit of Urban Exploration myself and would have loved to have visited the school before they pulled it down. The only thing I would say that you were a little heavy handed on is your watermark, it really distracts from the image.

    Some of the pictures do have a little bit of soft focus going on, but really great shots and editing.


    • Thanks Ben, I might try doing some more of the ones I took, see what I get. I know I had some of the outside that showed the building more, but it looks like I never did anything with them. I never said where the images were taken on my blog, I didn’t want to be responsible at the time for people going there, but since it has been pulled down I didn’t think it would matter. I don’t go to places like this much. I find the challenge of them not really what I am looking for.
      The watermark is distracting, but it is unfortunate that I have to put them on images like this. Thanks again.

  22. I love how you incorporate darkness in your photos. It’s a strong effect and it works really good on abandoned places like this one.

  23. Once again you have found beauty in the roughness … love it. My pick has the be the one with the stove.

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