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Brookwood Cemetery - More Research Photos

1 Feb 2017

The 'lens' I chose to use when observing this location was mainly on the theme of 'fractures'. The icy weather conditions meant there were lots of interesting cracked and crumbling textures (see black and white images below) which mirrored the crumbling gravestones. I felt that looking at unusual textures and details caused by the effects of nature (weather and weathering of gravestones) helped me to narrow down the subject matter, as the cemetery is so huge that it is easy to get swept up in looking at the wide angle landscape shots.

 

I've always loved photography, especially macro photography, so the close up texture photos above and below were really enjoyable to take. I did edit them slightly on photoshop, balancing the exposures etc, and I felt the snow photos looked better in black and white to emphasise the coldness of the conditions and highlight the textures, patterns and line elements.

 

 

Not strictly keeping to my 'lens' but I couldn't help but be intrigued by what was written on the graves. Particularly graves which had poetic quotes, but no name listed as to where they were from. I was thinking as I was reading them, who chose this quote? Was it a loved one who felt it summed up the deceased, or was it part of a will to have it as their last words to the world? I thought about how important it is that these people decided that these words would bring them comfort when they visit. Or that people decided that for future generations, after those who talked to them whilst they were alive were also dead and buried, would have these words to represents their thoughts, beliefs and philosophy. Some being religious like:

 

"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether."

(Song of Solomon 2)

 

Or famous poems in victorian times like the quote:

 

"Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace;

Sleep, holy spirit, blessed soul,

While the stars burn, the moons increase,

And the great ages onward roll."

(To J. S. by Lord Alfred Tennyson) 

 

The poem is about death, which, to me, seems odd that you'd want that on your grave. Did they see it as a way of welcoming death? Or maybe accepting it and trying to see it as something beautiful? A new beginning in the after life perhaps? Maybe that's why I find it beautifully tragic, I don't believe in an after life, so I'd rather be represented with a quote celebrating life, saying how much joy or love I felt in my life rather than the calm of death. Would that mean I didn't accept what I was given? That I had so much, but now have no life, nothing? I think that considering all these ideas and thoughts will help me when deciding on 3 paths I could take in developing an idea for where my project will lead.

 

In terms of researching further, I plan to look at more poems on death, and life I think, and see what imagery they describe.

 

 

All these thoughts remind me of a book which I have only read once, but is one of my favourites. (Unlike most people, if I read or watch something I love or empathise deeply with, I don't tend to rewatch/read it. To me it becomes sacred, that's what this book is to me.) It's called 'The Book Thief' and is literally told from the perspective of Death. It follows the life of a young jewish girl in Germany during World War 2, through the books she reads, and the life she leads, Death acknowledges the struggles that people face to avoid him/her. The first book she finds is a manual for grave diggers, which she picks up in a snowy graveyard where her young brother had just been buried. It was only in writing this blog that I thought of it, and the similarities between that opening scene and the Brookwood trip weather conditions.

 

The film that this visit and discussing cracks and fractures reminds me of is 'A Monster Calls' which only came out a couple of weeks ago so it's still in my mind. It's about a boy who is struggling with dealing with his mother's illness, and that we eventually find out he feels guilty because he's tired of fighting for her to get better when he knows she won't, that he wants it to be over. That realisation is said during a nightmare scene (clip below at 1:19) where the graveyard is cracking apart and he is literally holding onto his mother's hand as she hangs in a chasm of cracked earth in the graveyard - eventually letting her go. The 'monster' appears from the ewe tree in the graveyard, and the last hope for his mother's illness to be cured is made from elements of the ewe trees. So it's as if the only cure for her is also represented in the place she'll be buried if it doesn't work. But that the monster 'cures' the boy by helping him through his struggles.

 

 

 

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Illustrations © Claire Marchant 2019