My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Graveyards, Churches and Dramatic Skies

Firstly a big thank-you to my first 50 followers! I feel honoured that you think my blog is interesting enough to follow. 

Secondly, more photographs from Inverness city. I went back and took more, and this time I will post colour photographs as well as black and white ones. While black and white does suit the greyscale aesthetic of my blog better, some places just look better in colour. I'm still not much of a photographer, but I adore this sort of architecture, and I am trying to improve my photography skills too. 

I have a love of intersecting lines

This is looking up towards the spire of the Free North Church which is by the river on the southern bank of the Ness, in Inverness city. The Church is actually reddish brown and is late Victorian, built in a Gothic Revival style. I have photographed it before, and there are more pictures of it in the previous photographic post.Dr. Alexander Ross and has a capacity of 1800. Dr. Ross was also the architect of Inverness Cathedral, which I have not photographed yet, but which I will do as soon as the renovation works are finished. While the church is very definitely Gothic Revival, there are hints of Neo-Classical architecture, but they form a cohesive whole. There are several beautiful churches along the banks of the Ness, including the Cathedral. At some point I would like to photograph ALL of the churches in the city as they are architecturally beautiful. Inverness also has several architecturally impressive civic buildings and hotels, and private buildings that may have once been civic buildings or hotels. I need to enquire further. 

Egads! I'm using warm tones.
Perhaps I'm turning Steampunk in my old age? 

These are the columns at the front of the Free North Church - I think this church is currently one of my favourite buildings in the city, and is at least probably one of the buildings I have most photographed, even if not all of the photographs make the cut to be posted on my blog. I try to only post my best work to avoid picture spamming too much. It may not be amazing photography (I always feel terribly inferior when I look at my partner's work!) but I am a novice and I do try my best, and also try my best to learn and improve. I feel that I should have taken another step to the left to improve the composition, as the slight gaps between the columns possibly diminish it. To me the interest lies in how the red stone and wooden panels are contrasting textures but harmonising colours. 

Sturdy buttressing by the alleyway - well lit at night.

This is some pretty hefty buttressing!  There is an alleyway that runs between the graveyard for the Old High Church and the Free North Church. You can look upwards to the graveyard from it, as either the path was cut in, or the Old High Church on raised land. I think there are lights set into the alleyway paving (disks in the photo above) that light up the wall, but I've never been there at night to find out. I liked the sense of perspective and how the alleyway seems all crowded by the huge building. It is a very historical part of the city. The cobbles look gorgeous, but they're cobbles, so wear stiletto heels over them at your peril. 

There are lots of beautiful things in Inverness.

I spotted this in the above mentioned alleyway and felt compelled to try and photograph it in a flattering and interesting manner - I don't think I quite achieved that! Oh well, as I take more photographs I shall improve. I love Victorian street furniture, it is often very ornate, beautiful and has a good amount of attention to detail. Remember that Inverness was not a city when the Church was built, nor when this fancy lamp bracket fitted, and it is a small city now, even if it is the capitol of the Highlands, but even still the architecture is first rate and the city full of fabulous things and it is small (ok, this is quite a big and heavy cast iron bracket) details like this that really remind me of how nice things can be, and that beautiful things are not only for big, important cities like Edinburgh, London or Bristol (or Paris or Prague) but for every place. 

I love the texture of the old stone walls.

There's a lovely arch in the wall leading to the path up into the graveyard of the Old High church. I tried to take a photo that avoided including too much random modernity, and had lots of weathered stone texture. One of the benefits of the pebble-dashed wall behind is that in being white it shows off the gate which has pretty wrought iron swirls. 

This is a Goth blog, there had to be a graveyard.

This is an older photograph of the other side of the Old High Church - I took this photograph back in September or October, and it had been raining, so everything glistened and shone. It was late in the day, so everything had long shadows too. It's not an amazing photo from a technical perspective (there are lots of things wrong with it) but I do like the effect. I especially like how the damp edges of the path glistened, and how the marble (?) grave markers caught the light. 
Atmospheric clouds

This is the Old High Church. I took a similar photograph before, which I have posted in my previous post of architectural and monumental photography, and posted to the right of this paragraph for comparative purposes. I think the previous shot was far more atmospheric due to having two sorts of sky - brooding and cloudy above the church, wispy and bright above the trees. The more recent photograph certainly has a more interesting sky, in terms of having varied clouds right across, but I am not sure if this is quite as atmospheric. I also took the second photograph from much closer to the building, and so the perspective is different and the composition is different. I don't think it is a terrible photograph, but I also don't think it is an improvement on the previous version. I was trying to go for something where there was more a quality of the building looming than in the previous photograph, where it was more a contrast between angular architecture and dramatic sky. Either way, if anyone has any constructive criticism, I would gladly hear it! 

Last but not least, a chapel of rest on the far side of the river, part of a funeral home. This was taken the same day as the last batch of photographs from Inverness, but I wasn't sure about including coloured photographs into the post as I thought it might clash with the otherwise grey-scale aesthetic. Anyway, this building is built in a broadly Neo-Classical style, not sure entirely what the school of architecture is called. Compared to the churches in the area, especially the Catholic church on the same bank as this one, this building is a very imposing building. The Gothic churches are large stone-built buildings too, but something about the arches and detail makes them seem more elegant, and the Free North Church is positively airy by comparison. I think it is the severe lines of the chapel of rest. Either way, even were it a church and nothing funereal, it would still seem a cold building by comparison. This is not to say I dislike it, but it is a very different sort of building to the others here. 

I hope this latest collection of architectural photographs are enjoyed. Even if you never come to Inverness and never take photographs of the architecture here, I hope you at least have a look around your own area for buildings that may seem familiar and everyday at first, but on a second look are far more impressive. I walk past these churches whenever I am in the city, and most people go past them without a second glance. I try to take lots of photographs of the buildings and other things in the city both as a way to learn to take better photographs, and as a way to keep my eyes open for beauty around me, and to avoid familiarity dulling my perception of what is around me. 

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Traditional Goth, Modern Goth and Scene Snobbery

Goth was a very different thing in the '80s. I wasn't a goth back then, and I wasn't even born yet for a lot of the '80s. What I can remember is vague - some things are clear, like footage on television of the Berlin Wall coming down and this being somehow Very Important even if I didn't understand why at the time - but most of what memories I do have are very vague.  I have been interested in the early days of the subculture for a long while, and from what I've learnt, it was a very different beast. Two things stand out: it was called Goth by outsiders, the media, etc. not necessarily by the people within, and it was primarily about the music. 

The fashion was rather different too, partly because Goth-specific off-the-rack clothes didn't exist and partly because a lot of inspiration came from what the bands wore, and what the bands wore was sometimes stuff that wouldn't be called 'Goth' at all today (and if it was worn today would seem decidedly and deliberately retro '80s and might get the person accusations of "hipster"!). Patterned shirts were more common, and there was a lot of adaptation of mainstream clothes. There was less inspiration from Medieval or other anachronistic styles, and it was often more a layering of black street-wear customised with studs or band logos in the manner of punk. Despite Goth being associated with all black now, where it crossed over with Punk colours were certainly involved. Trousers were tight and preferably leather, boots were pointy. 

The hair was different; the sleeked back look had not really come in, nor red curls, and certainly not things like cyber dreads and the predominant style was to either bleach or dye black, then crimp and back-comb. Some rather creative styles were done via backcombing, including death-hawks (fluffy mohawks), Jareth-esque styles (see 'Labyrinth' staring David Bowie to see what I mean) and big fluffy Siouxsie Sioux styles or more deliberately unkempt Robert Smith styles. The makeup for women was heavily influenced by the likes of Siouxsie, with an ancient Egyptian element and straight eyebrows and lots of heavy black, sometimes accented with colours.  

Me with a Romantic Goth skirt and black foofy hair.

I identify as a Romantic Goth. I know and acknowledge the '80s Goth and it is my musical preference (and does impact on my fashion as I have foofy hair on some occasions, and Siouxsie make-up on regular occasions) but that is not personally how I like to dress. I prefer the lace and funereal elegance, the anachronism and the decadence of the Romantic Goth style. However much I adore female Goth icons like Siouxsie Sioux or Patricia Morrison, I would rather dress in a way that pleases me than emulate their style. That said, I adore pointy boots and want some rather nice ones from Pennangalan that come with very pointy toes and pentacle buckles. Pointy boots have a definite place in Romantic Goth fashion. 

Goth now is a much broader thing, part art movement, part subculture. I don't like those who try and put "rules" on Goth, trying to keep it like the Goth of the teenagers and young adults of the early '80s experienced it at that time.  Goth has always been a place for individualists, after all, and self-expression has always been one of the few tenets that binds this amorphic group of black-clad people. That said, there is still certainly a place for the fashion of the '80s goths, and '80s Goth music is certainly not dead (maybe it is undead?) and I hear at least some Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Joy Division and (yes, I'm mentioning her again...) Siouxsie at every Goth night I go to, even if there's EBM & Industrial or even Marilyn Manson being played too. 

The new influences do not dilute the subculture, they prevent ideological inbreeding - imagine Goth like a group of wild animal; if it stayed within its own gene-pool it would become inbred and sickly rather than reinforced, but if it mingles and breeds with compatible groups, it grows stronger. It is like that with the creative influences of Goth - Goth is not a purebred show-dog which inherits genetic weaknesses along with its genetic 'purity', it is a mongrel from the city, bred to survive and feed off the dark parts of the world. Members of the Goth subculture overlap with other subcultures, especially other ones with a musical core, as few people like only one single genre of music, for example, my love of Celtic and folk music does not cancel out my adoration of Andrew Eldritch's dark crooning and or the bilingual madness of Asylum Party. 

Goth has also grown out from its musical roots, but those roots run deep and keep the many more modern branches aloft (more nature metaphors...) Even manifestations such as Cyber, that cross with Industrial and seem to hold little relation to the original Goth subculture of the '80s do look back to their roots - for example French Synthpop/EBM/Bodypop band Celluloide did a cover of the Dead Can Dance song "In The Power We Trust The Love Advocated" and it was actually quite danceable. The new variations do not exist at the exclusion of the older ones, and it is possible for them to peaceably co-exist. 

I really do not like the inter-scene snobbery - people looking down on Metal, Lolita, Industrial, etc. on the grounds that it is not Goth - they're separate subcultures, even if they have strong links with the Goth subculture now, so what is there to be snobby about? It is just a difference, it is not an inferiority, and just because one person does not like it does not mean that there is nothing inherently worthwhile about it for the people who do like it. I also do not like the snobbery towards people who have a strong interest in two or more subcultures or are from a hybrid subculture - for example Cybergoths, the subcultural inspiration for whom is part Goth, part fetish, part Cyber and part Rave - or for people who predominantly have an interest in one particular subculture, but also a partial interest in another - for example someone who is mostly interested in Goth but also likes Metal on occasions. 

While it is perfectly acceptable to be of the opinion that not all changes in the Goth subculture are to your taste, and to believe that it has changed nearly beyond recognition (it has certainly changed a lot over the decades) it is not acceptable to ridicule others, in person or on the internet, for not seeing Goth the same way you do. Goth has no doctrine, no rules and no ideology. While there are those who appear to be fruits that fell far from the tree and do all sorts of things with little relation to original subculture and call it Goth, and those who simply misapply the term in ignorance (especially in terms of music genre), and these people can be annoying, treating others with cruelty and mockery does nothing to remedy the problem. Living your own Goth life to the fullest and living as an example of what you think Goth should be at least may have a positive influence, and if you feel compelled to "correct" or "educate" people, at least do so in a polite, positive and encouraging manner - those lessons are more likely to stay learnt, anyway. 

It is cliched advice, but be the change you want to see in the world. If you think there needs to be more Batcave-era music at your local Goth club, request songs you like instead of bitching about the fact that the things you like are never played, but be aware that other patrons will have other tastes, and that the music is ultimately up to the DJ. If you think too few people go out with backcombed hair, wear yours up backcombed at the weekend with pride or post about how to back-comb on your blog so that newbies can be educated. It is important the roots of the subculture are not forgotten, but is also important to allow others to make their own corner within - and outside - the subculture without mockery and snobbery. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

30 Day Goth Challenge, Day 5

Is there a local Goth band in my area? Quite simply, no. In Inverness there's a venue called The Ironworks that hosts a few small (but good) metal and alternative/indie bands, but I don't think there's a local Goth band in terms of a band with a sound similar to that of the 1980s Goth bands. I don't live in Inverness itself,  and am quite rural. Inverness, while designated a city, is not very big, and I've been to plenty of towns that are larger. The Highlands of Scotland are quite rural, on the whole, and mountainous. It does attract a lot of artists, musicians and creative types because there's a certain peace in its wild nature - it's not the sort of bustling place full of mundane distractions, and there's always something beautiful happening as even the weather is interesting to look at.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Clothes, Make-Up and Me Being Vain

I've realised I've not actually put many pictures of me up here, and apart from the one on the "About" page, there is only one of me being wearing the braided wig in an outfit that does not really typify my style (even if I think it is one of the better photographs that have been taken of me). Anyway, to remedy this, I am posting a few pictures of me taken on my laptop's webcam. Yes, they are suitably badly lit and grainy! These are pretty much my favourite things in my wardrobe at the moment. Not really that many self-made items in this outfit. Oh well, I shall have post some future ones that contain a lot more of my makes and mods.
I love wearing frills! 

Not that flattering when it comes to my face, but outfit visible.

Lots of lace!

Manuscript inspired make-up... 

Here is another photograph of the make-up, a bit closer, to try and show the silver detailing. 

A better view of the make-up

The makeup started of as abstract swirls, and then became more elaborate foliate designs. It is only one the one side. Unfortunately the poor quality images do not really do the makeup justice - each leaf is actually silver detailing on black, to the point where it is almost silver outlined in black, done in silver eye-liner over black eye-liner, with the black brushed on and the silver drawn. It isn't one of my best designs, but I quite liked how the silver worked over the black. For good designs and how-to on foliate/swirl makeup designs, checkout the tutorials of Adora Batbrat on YouTube. 

Where the clothes are from: 
Brocade frock-coat is from H&R and bought in Camden market. It laces up at the back. The buttons that came with this coat, and a military jacket by the same company keep falling off because they are poorly made and have burrs on the back that sever the thread keeping them attached - I am forever sewing the buttons back on and at some point will simply buy replacement buttons, but as buttons are getting expensive and both jackets require an awful lot (buttons at the cuffs as well) that will be sometime in the future. That said, the jacket is really gorgeous - the material is nicer than some later editions of this jacket that I have seen, as they seem to change the material once in a while. The lacing at the back means I can adjust the coat to my corseted and non-corseted figure, and the sweeping cut of the back is wonderful.  

Leather corset is from Leatherotics. I love the buckles and halter-neck. I wear this corset as much as possible! It is my favourite corset. It becomes part of Romantic/Aristo outfits and part of mostly-leather "Stompy Goth" outfits and is very comfortable for an under-bust corset. I have worn this corset an awful lot, and it has shown a few signs of wear, but nothing I could not mend simply and easily and with little impact. It has been quite resilient considering the amount I wear it. I like the fact there are almost "cups" to the top of this corset, as I do not like straight-across under-bust corsets as I think the harsh horizontal unflattering to many figures including mine. 

Black waistcoat with ornate buttons and chains is one of my own designs. It started off life as a rather business like waistcoat a size or two too small for me, and I altered it into something that is almost a cropped waistcoat (it has a high waist, at least) that deliberately does not close at the front, and instead has chains between ornate buttons. 

White frilly shirt is Gothic, Lolita and Punk, Camden Market. While I love how it looks, it shrinks every time I wash it, but not to a point where I can't stretch it back. It isn't exactly the same cut as when I bought it though, but this is not terribly noticeable when worn under a corset, waistcoat and jacket! I have learnt that it is better to wear plain white shirts (blouses) with jabots and detachable cuffs, especially as even cheap white shirts tend to retain their shape fairly well. 

The wig was a present from Raven. I have no idea where it is from, but I know it needs some routine maintenance at the moment, mostly dealing with ends frizzed by wearing it and some locks near the front that I accidentally overheated while trying to re-curl. Heat and synthetic wigs do not agree! In the words of the meme comedy community: Learn From My Fail!

I love mixing and matching from various historical periods, but things I like trying to incorporate into my looks include buckles, chains and ornate buttons in silvery metals, brocades and damasks, black lace and white lace, corseting, details and layering. Quite a few blogs already include outfit posts, and I am not sure if doing these myself would be of any benefit, but welcome reader feedback on this. I do not want to be the bloggery equivalent of one of those people who endlessly uploads photographs to social media, and this is not primarily a fashion blog, so even if I do post future "outfit posts" this will probably be an occasional thing.

This is also generally the style in which I dress everyday. Right now I am wearing a medieval-inspired dress that laces up at the bodice with a long velvet waist-coat-type-thingy (costumers and renaissance faire types can probably elucidate me on the name) that does up with frog-clasps, black stockings and black slippers, so slightly less layered than above, but still distinctly Gothic and definitely leaning to the Romantic and fancier ends of Goth. I only dress down for occasions where I do not want to cause trouble by my appearance, or for work, especially the conservation work, where I'd ruin fancy clothes rather quickly. I dress like this even when I do not intend to leave the house, and do so partly because I enjoy getting dressed into all these layers of anachronistic finery and adorning myself with make-up, accessories, wigs and jewellery. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Goth, Subcultures and Middle-Class Rebellion

It seems that there is this belief, mostly amongst non-Goths, that Goth is seen as an identity people take on in order to be visibly rebellious against a middle-class upbringing, and that for Goths past university age that it is a variation on being a "trustafarian". This, I think, misinterprets the motivations of those who become Goth - it is not done as an active rejection or rebellion of anything, simply as the enjoyment of music, fashion and art outside the mainstream. It has become a subculture, but it is not a counterculture in the way of Punk or Hippie - Goth is more concerned with arts than politics, especially music. 

In seeking artistic fulfilment, whether musical, fashion-related, visual, or otherwise, in taboo areas such as lyric content about death, dark romance and the occult or in macabre art or in clothes, accessories and a personal appearance that are easily identifiable as different from the mainstream, the mainstream then perceives Goths engaged in an active rebellion against them, rather than simply preferring something else. As a large proportion of contemporary Goths come from a middle-class background, Goth has become viewed as something done by disaffected middle-class youths trying to assert independence and difference from their middle-class upbringings. Goth, though, is not a middle-class phenomena, it is a cross-class phenomena, and one that grew out of Punk, a subculture once seen as working-class. 

I think part of the reason that Goths tend to be seen as middle-class pseudo-rebels is the fact that unlike other subcultures, Goth is not a counterculture, and therefore not incompatible with dominant western culture (not having talked to any goths in the Middle East, Africa or the Far East, or been there myself I cannot comment on their experiences) because while it does tend to be more tolerant towards things such as having a radically different appearance, being interested in non-mainstream and occult spirituality, and not adhering to gender norms, and in looking for beauty in places otherwise considered taboo, it does not have a political or cultural group of accepted beliefs. Whether a person holds beliefs counter to those upheld by the mainstream, or more radical than those of the mainstream or even in accordance is up to the individual, and not related to subcultural affiliation. 

One of the ways that Goth is different to the mainstream in terms of values is the importance of self-made cultural signifiers over bought cultural signifiers - Goths tend to value someone sewing their own bustle-skirts and fancy jackets over them being bought, and while judgement may be passed on the quality of the final product by some, the desire to create for oneself will be lauded, not just for the skill required, but because creating emancipates one from having to buy into mass-produced concepts and allows for originality and a heightened level of freedom of expression bound only by courage and skill. Making one's own clothes has often been mocked as either being a forced condition of poverty (strange in a country where it is cheaper to get clothes from a discount retailer such as Primark or from a charity shop than it is to buy materials to make clothes, although this does not necessarily stand for alternative clothes - it is cheaper to buy a t-shirt than to make one, it is cheaper to make a bustle gown than to buy one) or an attempt to be deliberately countercultural - i.e simply doing so because the mainstream isn't - rather than simply as a way to have clothes that fit correctly and look exactly the way the wearer intends, or at least hopefully rather close to that vision. 

Goths may also have a tendency to end up socio-economically as middle class, regardless of their backgrounds, because there is tendency for us to be more intellectually or academically inclined. I was certainly a bookish, academic sort at school, the sort that was skipped a year and went to literature and chess clubs as well as pursuing various musical interests, despite having survived childhood abuse and coming from a low-income single-parent household, and many of my Goth friends are either in academia as a career or have gone through higher education in the more intellectually challenging fields, and some of those despite coming from backgrounds that could be considered "challenging" or "disadvantaged" and others from a rather varied selection of backgrounds, but my personal experiences do not speak for all. While the economy is struggling in my country at least, it still stands that having a degree or two in a subject that is applicable to specialist industries is certainly useful in terms of career prospects and thus socio-economic status. Goths also tend to have a certain level of self-determination which gives them the courage to defy convention enough to wear alternative clothes or listen to non-mainstream music, but also gives them a level of ambition and direction. 

Also, some of the more visible Goths, and thus the ones that are noticed by non-Goths and the mainstream, are going to be the ones with the more elaborate or polished appearances, and terms of items such as jewellery, boots and unusual clothing, if bought these can be rather expensive, unaffordable to the poor or working class without very careful saving. Also, to the outside, those who have self-made outfits that are highly elaborate and have considerable skill in their creation maybe assumed to have bought them simply because it is perceived that ordinary people simply don't have the skill to make clothes and accessories like that any more, and that these are antiquated crafts lost to history. When non-Goths ask me about items I have made myself, or even modified, there is a continual reaction of shock that I really did make something myself, that it wasn't produced in a factory or produced in a factory the way it now is. Goths tend to place higher value on something being aesthetically pleasing than expensive, and, as mentioned before, on crafting and creating for oneself, so outfits that look expensive may be, but at the same time, they may be made from recycled charity shop clothes on a budget sewing machine (at least mine are). 

Some Goths do hold an antagonism towards the mainstream, at least partly because Goths do come on the receiving end of unpleasantness from non-Goths, and this is then perceived as representative of the mainstream attitude towards Goths, although that attitude actually varies widely dependent on location and current trends, and of course, is incredibly diverse on an individual level. There are those amongst the Goth subculture that do hold views not really in accordance with the mainstream (or the local mainstream) and who do have views critical of modern western society (I certainly do) and who use the subculture as a vessel for their countercultural beliefs. There are also those who do see Goth as a vehicle for youthful rebellion, or a way to assert their identity as separate from that of those around them, or simply to antagonise their parents and things they see as "the establishment". None of these facets, though, is representative of the subculture as a whole, and can even be seen as an appropriation of the subculture for a personal agenda (and in the case of those appropriating the subculture for antagonistic shock value, or for garnering attention, doing so in a damaging and negative way). 

I think there is also an assumption that in order to have the time to actually ponder concerns like the one I am writing about, or to "indulge" in the arts or music, that one must be at least middle class-because it is assumed that otherwise I would be too busy trying to make a living. At one point I was at college, working in a supermarket, and going to evening classes - I wrote observational poetry in the quiet moments in the supermarket, on the back of discarded receipts. While an active pursuit of the arts, like learning a musical instrument from a teacher, or going to concerts and the sorts of exhibitions where you have to pay, does require financial resources, it is possible to be personally involved and interested in the arts with little in the way of resources. I taught myself to play piano, partly because I could not afford a tutor, and yes, it took a long time, and yes, my technique is highly unorthodox (and probably self-defeating on occasion) but I can now play things with relative competency and musicality, I draw on cheap office paper with the biros that are given away free in banks or with catalogues, I make and modify my fashion out of things I bought in charity shops. A passion for creativity may be bracketed in terms of its final form by resources and circumstance and opportunity, but not in its existence. Goth, as a subculture focused on artistic expression, especially music, is therefore bracketed only in form by resources, not in vision, passion or inclusion. Passion and determination can to a certain degree prevail over circumstance and lack of opportunity.  

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Graveyards, Buildings & A Competition

I have entered the raffle at Bethezda's Preoccupations for nail-polish and eye-shadows in glorious colours. It is ::here::. Part of the terms of entering the raffle is mentioning it on your own blog.

Earlier today I went to Inverness city, and visited several graveyards and churches and took quite a few photographs. I've been into the city before to take photographs of the architecture and suchlike and this post will be a conglomeration of the two visits. Next time I am there in good weather I may take more photographs. I am going to give location details within Inverness for these graveyards and statues so that if anyone is holidaying there or lives in the area and likes visiting graveyards and historical buildings then you can visit these ones. 

This is a mausoleum at the very old graveyard at the end of Academy Street in Inverness. It is in a far corner, over towards the main road, at the opposite side to the entrance, tucked in the corner backing against the Longman Road. I like this graveyard, it's gated and makes an idyll of tranquility in the middle of the city. It has some very, very old graves, dating back to at least the 1700s, some I think are even older. What I've noticed about the graves in Inverness is that they have unusual decorations, often incorporating skulls, bones, angels of death and other decided Gothic motifs. I really need to go back and take more pictures because many of the ones of said designs did not turn out very well. 

There's a sailing-ship on their crest

This is from the graveyard associated with The Old High Church, which is unsurprisingly on Church Street, near Bank Street. It is a church on a natural mound, higher than the other churches along the river - and there are a LOT of churches and chapels along the river. Most of them are gothic architecture, and the Catholic church on the opposite side o the river is especially ornate. By the time I'd walked to that church it was too dark to take good photos, sorry. I did try, but it was really rather dingy and I couldn't hold the camera still enough. Sorry. 

I did, however, get a picture of The Old High Church against a rather dramatic sky. I took a colour photo of this church that turned out well earlier this year, but I think I'll stick to photos in black and white, or at least in dark shades otherwise it will clash with the rest of the entry and the page design. It's hard to imagine, looking at it from this angle, that this is pretty central in the city and surrounded by other buildings!

This is a different church, along Bank Street. This is the Free Church of Scotland North. It has some of the fanciest architecture on Bank Street, and lots and lots of Gothic detailing - note the street lights aren't even of a modern design. I haven't ever been inside this church, maybe that should be my next project - although that will probably be sketches as many churches consider it disrespectful to take photographs inside, so unless I can find someone to ask and OK it with them first, I generally stick to drawing. I have noticed that it is best to wear more conservative (although not necessarily less Goth) clothes for church visiting. 

This is a hostel, and it is built over the alley into Lombard Street in the centre of town. I stood on one of the stone decorations/seats to take this photo above people's heads because below are shop fronts, and lots of people being people and therefore scruffy, mundane, with shopping bags from Primark and Currys and bad hair and that doesn't quite have the right atmosphere. A lot of people walk straight by buildings like this, maybe out of familiarity, maybe because they just don't realise how nice the stuff above eye-level can be. A lot of people walk around looking downwards. How they avoid bumping into people is beyond me. 

This is a rather nice building somewhere off across the Bridge Street/Young Street bridge... I actually can't remember where I was when I spotted this. Oops. Usually I've got an amazing memory for places. I liked the ironwork on the roof, probably Victorian, and the fact that someone thought to make this mini-turret and gables. Inverness was once rather affluent, looking at the architecture, as there are rather a lot of very fancy houses, guest houses, hotels, civic buildings, etc. etc. Old Town especially, but all across town there are lovely buildings. Yes, there are quite a few mid 20thC ugly buildings, but there's some stunning modern buildings too, although they don't really come under the scope of this blog. 

This is a gargoyle on the Victorian Market (back on Academy Street) and it is a ram. I thought it was a goat, but Raven, who used to live on a farm in Wales, says it's a ram. I'm going to defer to his judgement on that. Whatever he is, he's got amazing curly horns. The Victorian Market is basically a Victorian market building that houses a variety of independent retailers and cafes and has lovely architecture inside as well as out.  It has some rather funky modern details too, including some interesting murals and canopies which I am also going to have to photograph. 

This is part of an archway (yes, with an inverted curve) to the side of Falcon Square, which is pretty much the centre of Inverness. This is another case of things spotted on looking away from the obvious. The designers of the square have picked the clock, the entrance to the Eastgate Shopping Centre (the mall) and the statue as the foci of the area, but that doesn't mean that the rest should be ignored. I love designed spaces, because they really don't need much to make them look nice - if the architects have done their jobs properly they look nice from just about every angle. That said, unplanned places that have evolved and been built over long centuries also have a special sort of eclectic attractiveness, but one that tends to appear more amongst older buildings rather than 20thC ones.