n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Promoting and popularising the asylum : photography and asylum image-making at the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum, 1890-1907

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



Studying the history of the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum under the medical superintendency of Dr Thomas Duncan Greenlees (1890-1907), the nature of imaging the institution emerged as a point of interest. This article specifically explores how Greenlees promoted and popularised the asylum in order to gain custom from private patients. I argue that one way in which Greenlees created patronage was through the cultivation of a public image of the asylum as ideally suited to the care of middle class patients, as well as promising restoration and recuperation from insanity. In this manner, the image-making of the asylum provided a vital tool to counter public fears and stigma. Furthermore, Greenlees's image-making acted as a form of public relations with the broader community to initiate public confidence in the establishment.

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