I’m really pleased to announce a new video titled Gardens of Death that is a joint collaboration with Diz from Warrington, who is a brilliant musician.
Gardens of Death
Gardens of Death is a journey through the many graveyards and cemeteries that I visit to take photographs of the wonderful scenes and beautifully carved stonework that cries out to be seen. I have lost count at the amount of times that I’ve been called weird when I tell people that I love to visit graveyards and cemeteries in my spare time. There’s just something about these Gardens of Death as I call them, that call out to be explored, but why is this?
Graveyard and Cemetery Photography
Throughout the centuries, graveyard and cemetery fashion has changed along with our views regarding death and burials.
Memento Mori – Remember You Will Die
What I find fascinating is that from approximately the 14th century and the onset of the various plagues, people had a strong message to deliver in life and from their grave. Life expectancy was short and death could strike at any moment. Therefore the strong message to all living people was ‘Memento Mori‘, Latin for ‘remember you will die‘ and the important message is to live life for now, enjoy your loved ones and time on this realm as you don’t know when your time is up. In this day and age, a lot of us find ourselves living to work, suffering untold amounts of stress on our bodies and not having the time to enjoy the fruits of our labours.
Recession, quality of living, the big divide between the rich and the poor, more and more cuts to charities, homelessness, NHS struggling are issues that are in our face constantly, reminding us how hard life is on an hourly basis. Ugly politics, disgraceful leaders, propaganda and ignorance are other attributes that are constantly in my face and I yearn for something to look forward to like a decent holiday, a break from it all. Instead, I should be living life for NOW and savouring time spent with those closest to me, enjoying their company, watching them grow, helping them grow as life could end tomorrow. You only have to look at the world we live in today to understand that our lives can and are cut down in our prime. We spend our time glued to social media and I don’t know about you, but lately I find more and more distressing images and headlines popping up on my feed every day that takes away the once fun element of connecting with people via a new medium. Memento Mori is again relevant in today’s horrific world, but I digress!
Cemetery fashion throughout the cemeteries has softened and many of us don’t know what Memento Mori represents. A skull and crossbones carved into a headstone represents Memento Mori. The skull and bones represent what we all become after death no matter what our status is in life. The wealthy could afford more elaborate headstones and memorials to deliver the message of Memento Mori with my favourite being the Irish cadaver stones. This imagery softened during the 17th century when the Puritans lost their religious grip on society. The skull and crossbones was replaced with a cherubs face and wings or feathers.
In the early 19th century, some headstones displayed versus, such as the one I found on a headstone in Daresbury of a person who ‘unfortunately drowned’ in 1802 aged 33 years.
All you that come my grave to fee
Prepare yourfelves to follow me
Repent in time make no delay
I in my prime was called away
The Victorians went one step further and used symbols to reflect a persons beliefs and way of life. Of course, the wealthiest displayed their status with stone carved memorials and often planned their lasting message to society in the prime of their life. For further reading, please visit my page Graveyard Symbols and Meanings and I also recommend my page titled Memento Mori.
I find graveyards and cemeteries to be places of fascination due to the wealth of information that remains hidden to those who refuse to see. The hustle and bustle of everyday life escapes me as I explore the fascinating headstones and memorials and reflect on those who still speak to us from beyond the grave. I am not on my own with my fascination of graveyards and cemeteries and I don’t care if you think I am weird. Perhaps one finds it weird due to their fear of death?
Gardens of Death is a slideshow video that showcases some of my graveyard and cemetery photography that hopefully shows you the beauty of these places. Back in 2004 when I started photographing graveyards and cemeteries, I was led by my love of Gothic horror, trying to create imagery to provoke an array of emotions such as fear and horror as back then, that’s what graveyards and cemeteries provoked in me. Throughout the years, my knowledge has grown and it is reflected in the majority of my graveyard and cemetery photography as I do find these places to be beautiful.
Diz of Ziff Studios
Diz from Warrington is a personal friend and a talented musician. He is lead singer for the fantastic Darkdaze, a guitarist in my daughter’s band Metrotone and the other half of the band The Unholy Winos. Diz has also setup Ziff Studios and I challenged him to score a piece of music to fit my photography after hearing his track Dracula – Revenge of Love that was recorded at Ziff Studios. I highly recommend listening to Dracula – Revenge of Love by clicking on the link as I really like it and I hope you will too.
Diz rose to the challenge with his score titled Gardens of Death and it fits beautifully with my photography. I hope that this will be the start of many collaborations that will challenge and push our individual strengths to create haunting and beautiful imagery that could be displayed at various upcoming events.