Monday, May 18, 2009

Graveyard Art . . .

The depth of humanity expressed and the variety of styles found in graveyard art never fails to astound me. Just the notion of leaving a visible trace long after one has passed on to other planes of energy is a subject full of poetry, and people sometimes reach considerable heights in artistic expressions of that longing to be remembered. This bas relief sculpture of an old woman reading a book with a child really grabbed me, and note the clogs she is wearing with upturned points. The girl, on the other hand, or foot, as it were, seems to be barefoot. . .
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Portraits of couples probably torn assunder by war or other calamities speak volumes to me. I just wish I could ask these people to tell me their stories. . .
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22 comments:

Jo said...

Omigoodness, I have always been fascinated by graveyard art. When I was a little girl, there was a graveyard not far from where I lived. It was very well-kept, with small white pebbles around each grave. I used to spend hours in there, looking at the gravestones and wondering about the people -- who they were, how they lived and died.

There is something frightening, and yet sacred and mysterious about the final resting place of people who once lived on this earth.

Margaret Pangert said...

I respect the notion of placing photos and other memorabilia outside the grave. It must be more of a solace to the grievers than our (US) markers (and only a certain height for the lawnmowers). Notice how personal they are: the grandmother in life must have loved her grandchildren as well as read to them; this couple was young once. Religious statuary, while beautiful and meaningful to many, is nonetheless generic.

joo said...

Great photos, I like especially first one - it's sad but beautiful sculpture. I'm not really keen on graveyards portraits. They were also very popular here.
Have a nice week.

Nathalie said...

I'm sorry I left so many good posts go without commenting but my life is too hectic at the moment to afford much time spent on blogs. Let me just say that the browse was giant fun, from the partial eclipse of a clown to the sign-devouring tree (glad you gave it a wide berth).

Cheers

meggie said...

The little girl in the second photo looks like a frightened little child bride. I do hope she had a happy life. The man looks quite kind, so I hope he was as he looks.
I love cemetaries, & the art, verse, & stories to be read. It seems a shame to think it is all a dying art, since cremation is becoming a necessity.

Nathalie encore said...

I rarely visit cemetaries and I can't say I'm a huge fan of such places but attending a friend's funeral recently brought more interest for the memories that linger around the tombs.

the watercats said...

I love the peace that is contained in Graveyards. Over here (Ireland), there doesn't seem to be the same tradition of ornamenting graves, bar the odd religeous statue and perhaps some of the Victorian Protestant graves. I've always liked the idea of adorning one's tomb though, there is something very natural about it.

SILVER said...

i think it's all very fascinating although it may just spook and put most people off..

I'm a familiar "soul" in this field..maybe that's why..

~Silver
REFLECTIONS

Owen said...

Jo, that's exactly what it is for me, a sense of wonder about past lives that we will never know much of anything about, unwritten, unsung, finally only remembered, if at all, by a few words or a picture on a stone... I am trying to preserve if only in a small, respectful way, a small glimmer of the light radiated by such people, before it fades out entirely... stone crumbles, photos disappear...

Margaret, I've always loved since first discovery the personal touches one finds in many cemeteries here in France, that do indeed seem more poignant and warm to me than much of what I remember from America... am really enjoying your visits, and thanks for translating too, over at Laurie's place !

Hi Joo, I understand, this is not a subject intellectually or visually that everyone is comfortable with, indeed rather a taboo subject for many... but for me it is a part of looking at the world and life, and everything in it, including death and memory for those departed.

Nathalie & Encore, absolutely no need to apologize, I am so happy to have your visits whenever you can manage, I know we can't all blog all the time, I'm barely keeping up with myself too... but your thoughts are always clear and honest and, well, thoughtful, you are always welcome here whenever... and I loved your last reflection shot, what a beauty !

Meggie, hi and welcome... right on, iti is the stories that link us with other humans, past and present. And you hit the (coffin) nail right on the head, it is indeed a "dying" art, up to us photographers to keep it alive now I think, because stonecarvers are few and far between these days...

Waterfelines, I guess I'll have to come to Ireland to take a look-see... I hear there are cheap flights from Beauvais on Ryan Air... As for decoration, indeed a very natural and ancient inclination. I liked the little I saw of how Native Americans gave up their dead to the great spirit...often with lovely art for company. (PS was listening to the mewlings... I like it, I like it!)

Silver, spooking I think is again related to the taboo, but not my intention to put anyone off, just to assist in providing a little subject matter, pertinent to most, for sooner or later we will all pass that way, for further reflection. But I well understand that everyone's perception and reaction to delicate subjects like death and the beyond are widely varied and individual or private... in any case do come back soon, the coffee's always on here...

Laurie said...

Owen,
I take my hat off to you! These are seriously good photographs. Beautiful! Green with envy AGAIN!
Laurie

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Owen,
I too like to visit cemeteries in the hope of learning the stories reflected in the tombstones but I get little opportunity to do so. I like your photos although that Grandma is a bit creepy.

jeff34 said...

Owen ! Owen ! Mais qu'est-ce que tu fous dans les cimetières...
Mais il est vrai que ta première photo m'a amené à réfléchir... La jeune-fille pieds-nus et la plus âgée en sabots... Peut-être y voir un symbole de pureté pour l'une et de sagesse pour l'autre...? Ma libre interprétation me joue parfois des tours !
Tu veux pas aller faire un tour sur les champs ! T'es juste à côté toi !...
Enfin, merci de faire réfléchir le "grand nigaud" que je suis !
Ciao Owen... A plus !

Joanna Dover said...

Hello Owen - just to let you know - I tagged you!

Steve said...

Wonderfully, passionately, humanely macabre and oh so very humbling....

Martha said...

These are so interesting and your photography is wonderful!

Owen said...

LGS, she is a little creepy, but I think it is just the way she weathered... I remember having a very warm feeling when I took that picture... may your mixed nuts always be plentiful !

Laurie, which hat is that that you said is off? Was it you who was wondering how the clown's hat stayed on his head ? It think it was glued there... like in the movie "Matilda"... have you seen that wonderful film ?

Steve, indeed we are humble when standing beholding the infinite wonder of our terminus...

Thanks Martha !

Joanna, Oh my, I've never been "tagged" before, I hope that does not mean I'm going to find an unpleasantly garish spray painted work of art on my front gate in the morning... will come take a look at your place I guess...???

Catherine said...

I share your love of cemeteries and graveyard art!! Last week you gave me the photographer Iturbide...let me offer you a Mexican death photographer work this week whose work I think is amazing..Enrique Metinides..press photographer whose job it was to get the first picture of the dead on the front page.. I saw an exhibition of his work at the Photographers Gallery in 2003...

Owen said...

Catherine, thanks SO much, will take a look at home later tonight... really appreciate your suggestions, still can't get over the Island of Dolls !

Rain said...

Hi Owen! I find graveyards a fascinating place to visit. The artwork is amazing. Where I live now, there are a few very old cemetary with beautiful old statues. I've been to the Père Lachaisse cemetary when I visited Europe in 1990. It was really something to see. Nice photos!

Catherine said...

Owen...I couldn't get over Island of the Dolls either... I looked at those freaky youtube videos which were really creepy and thought I must go back there and set foot on the place and explore it properly for myself...will let you know when I do!!

Ann said...

GRAVEYARD ART IS A FABULOUS PEEK INTO HISTORY AND LIVES! IT IS SO UNIQUE TO EACH ONE. PHOTOS ARE WONDERFUL.
LOVE YOUR BLOG..I CAN SEE THAT I'LL BE A DAILY VISITOR.I LOVE EVERYTHING ON IT..JUST TOOK THIS "SPOT" TO LEAVE A MESSAGE ABOUT EVERYTHING ON IT. AND THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO VISIT MY BLOG AND FOLLOW..AS I WILL YOURS!
YOUR TASTE IN MUSIC IS SUPURB..AND NIKITA,YOU ARE ONE OF ABOUT 4 PEOPLE I KNOW WHO EVEN KNOW THIS FILM!!!!!

Alberto Oliver said...

All art manifestations reflects a certain amount of frivolity. Not the case with that of the graveyard, that is what make it special. It was the respect for the dead who perhaps first encouraged human being to manifest through artistic expression. Dead has gone and will go beyond man understanding. I rather prefer to recall that piece of a poem roughly translated in english this way: "i cry, it doesn´t matter how much reason advice at me, that a corpse is neither a demolished tron nor a broken altar, but an empty prision"
Regards