Every now and then, I need a little respite from making. I feel that being in nature is really important for the creative process, and helps me breathe. I've been kayaking a lot recently, which is a really novel and relaxing way to experience the city.
Now that spring is (finally) well and truly sprung, Pip and I took the opportunity to go on our most gothic date yet; a long overdue trip to the famous Highgate Cemetery
, burial place of Karl Marx and many other thinkers, writers and celebrities.
The Cemetery really is "a haven of beauty and tranquility
" as its website
says; strolling around the graveyard one couldn't help but feel at peace, and sitting by the firefighters' memorial surrounded by birdsong and inquisitive, fearless robins was the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.
The Cemetery is teeming with life; many graves are more like flower beds, covered with planted daffodils, primroses and pansies. I find the intersection of life and death inspiring and life-affirming; to know that we continue in the form of natural beauty when we die. A number of tombstones had been laced with ivy which had died back, leaving veinous patterns to add to their marble design.
Human design, too, was very inspiring here; there were many witty examples of gravestones the deceased or their families had chosen, from the tomb designed to look like a Penguin Book cover, to pop artist Patrick Caulfield's sculptural grave, which reads, rather dryly, "DEAD".
When I was doing my A Levels, the topic of one of our Photography modules was "Links and Connections". I chose to look at the links between life and death, and, more specifically, at graveyards.
I also photographed a whale's spine decomposing on the beach of the tiny Highland hamlet my grandparents live in.
The vetebrae sticking up into the air put me in mind of the tombstones I was also photographing at various graveyards in the North West Highlands.
Visiting Highgate Cemetery reminded me of this, and it was a shame I didn't bring a better camera than my everyday digital one! I did, however, snap merrily away, and got many pictures of the profusion of flora and vegetation in the Cemetery, and the varied examples of design in the tombs, ranging from art nouveau to art deco, Sorry this post is so picture heavy; I did get slightly carried away:
|I thought this was a particularly lovely epitaph.|
|Douglas Adams's grave, complete with an offering of pens to the writer|
|This woman had such a beautiful name; I wonder what her story was?|
|Blooms covering a "flowerbed grave"|
|...and luscious ferns|
|Patrick Caulfield's acerbic tombstone|
|Pat Kavanagh's art noveau-inspired gravestone|
|Jeremy Beadle's tomb was judged to be the one with the most books!|
|This woman is buried with her dog, Emperor|
|Somehow the erosion of statues like this one only adds to their romantic beauty|
|George Eliot's tomb|
As it is perhaps the first week of tightsless weather this year, I couldn't resist dressing up for the day out in my new imitation-fifties frock (complete with petticoat), and genuine-fifties Polaroid sunglasses.
Now it's back to stitchin' for me; I will try to have my Melancholyflowers up on here this week; it's just that all that foliage is so fiddly (but I do love sewing it!)