Derelict mental asylums, hospitals & Andre Govia, July 2009

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 11.07.2009

Urban Explorer, asylum/hospital fanatic, artist, photographer and film maker Andre Govia, steps up to the mic in the first of our monthly guest interviews to share some adventures whilst exploring his favourite locations – derelict abandoned mental asylums and hospitals.

Andre is an admin for a Flickr group called ‘abandoned asylums‘ and is a member of Mission Abandoned. Andre’s extensive photo collection which documents each mission has gained a significant following, their most noticeable characteristic being an amazingly cold, surreal, detailed post processing technique which leaves people in awe.

So, sit back and enjoy…

So Andre, before we get started – can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I work in admin and also do some film work here in London and Miami

Your urban exploration shots are amazing, on an urbex mission – what does your kit bag contain (lenses, camera, first aid, rope etc)

My kit bag contains Canon 5d, 10-22mm sigma, 430EX Strobe, tripod, 50mm, dust mask and some props to dress up in if needed for a shot, no weapons or rope, no phone

If cash was not a limit, what kit would you buy?

Well if cash was not a problem I would be shopping for a Canon EOS1 mk3 with a f1.8 fisheye. Oh and a Canon 5d mk2 with a 17mm f1.8 but in the real world of urbex I would be happy with any camera I can get my hands on, also sigma lens are great for the price but look out because they will break on you! I have killed 3 of them myself!

Your portfolio shows some amazing locations, can you tell us your favourite location and why?

I love abandoned asylums and schools, not into factories so much for some reason. I just like dark side of the buildings and my fave asylum would be Cane hill or Denbigh.

Can you describe the strangest event you have experienced on an urbex mission?

The strangest thing I ever did see was in the Red Cross abandoned hospital in Taplow, Berks. We went in late afternoon via the side of the admin block when all of a sudden all the trees began to shake like mad (no wind on this day) it was like all around us, we promptly made for the exit and went to the pub.

Have you ever been too scared to enter a site, if so why was it?

Never been scared to enter a site (if you know the laws of trespass) guards are like the mouse and we are like the cats, it’s all a game and they know it so we are always polite when the crap hits the fan. Dark basements always get me thinking of some horror film, and service tunnels make me question my sanity.

Safety is an issue for any urban explorer, have you had any safety close calls?

Yes safety is important but I do take too many risks to get that shot. I have been through floors into basements (thanks West Park), fallen down stairs, cut up on glass and the list goes on. At one point my back was in a real bad way after a fall and my heart was pounding for about 2 hours from shock, blood was dripping from my arms and legs for the remainder of the trip. I have also been into a bog up to my belt line, but that’s the risk’s we all take as urban explorers.

If you could get into any location to shoot it, where would it be and why?

I get into any abandoned building I want to so I don’t have a list but always kick myself if I miss a good explore due to demo act or arson

Your photos are fantastic; can you describe your workflow?

My work flow is very complex. I use multi exposures with photo shop – it would take me hours to get into the core of my photos so another time I would be happy to cover this topic with more detail

Can you explain how you felt when you were approached to sell your photos on a commercial basis and where did they get displayed?

I have sold amounts of my photos to DreamWorks/NBC/Universal films /Computer Game Companies/Record Companies and Magic Companies. I am working with Motley Crue to have photos on their new track TNT and as back drop on the world tour. I’m also working with some national papers, but I don’t set out to sell my work they find me and make me offers. I’m not into urbex to sell! I’m no sell out but the extra money helps me to replace broken kit!

What is your advice for people wanting to start urban exploration?

Don’t do it until you can go with someone who can host you as danger is all around, never explore on your own.

For the final question of the set….

What’s coming up next on your mission plans?

I hope it to be Beelitz if all goes well 🙂

An awesome interview with excellent insights into a great urban explorer! I’m sure you will join me in saying a ‘big thanks’ for taking the time with the interview.

If you wish to contact Andre, you can do so through Flickr here, you can also view some of Andre’s work here

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