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..

Friday, 6 July 2012

Architecture, Statuary and Suchlike

I have been into Inverness taking photographs of buildings, details and in graveyards again.  As far as photography goes it is buildings, monuments and similar things that I prefer taking pictures of. I have a fondness for architecture stemming to my teenage years, having once aspired to being an architect. To me, my photographs are a form of appreciation of the buildings I admire. Inanimate objects that won't run away when I point a camera at them also provide good practice material. 

Suzy has lent me a nice Canon camera with proper manual settings to play with, but it's big and heavy, not weatherproof and I'm still not very confident using it, so for this trip I took my little pocket point-and-shoot camera as it fits in my handbag and I am not afraid to take it out in the rain. I really want to get more confident using the proper camera because when I have taken pictures with it, they are so much better than with the point-and-shoot because I can control the variables to favour the results I am aiming for, rather than have to put up with the automated choices that the point-and-shoot assumes are what I want (and rarely are). 
Pay attention to that storm...
As per usual I began my trip at the Old High Church, on Church St. (aptly named, it has several churches) and took pictures there. Whenever I go there I spot something else I want  to photograph that I did not spot on the previous occasion. Today it was the lamp-post at the top of the ridge overlooking the river that caught my eye. Behind it was a moody sky, and I wanted to capture that. That is indeed a typical Scottish summer sky; full of rain and thunder. I'm sure Noah accidentally wandered up here when he had to build that ark... 
Slightly less rainy.
I find dramatic rain-laden clouds the most interesting backgrounds, second only to sunsets. There is something fascinating about the contrast of the perpetually changing natural beauty of the weather and the static beauty of human artifice. In this picture I concentrated on the thick glass of the lantern portion and the way the clouds are distorted in it. Most of my pictures on this blog are set to black and white to fit the aesthetic of the blog, but here the colours have been kept as it conveys the atmosphere better with the colours retained, and the image is fairly grey anyway.
Sometimes it is the smaller things I notice, such as these grass seeds by a grave, where the monument has sheltered the grass from the strimmer and it has grown long. Next time I try this I will try and angle myself so that the background is all church and graves as the grass was well-lit and the composition would have been better if it was the grass with its highlights against the darker blurred stone. There are all sorts of interesting natural things in graveyards. I tried taking a photograph of a spider in the stone folds of a monumental draped urn, but it scurried off at my invasion of its privacy. 
Carved on a headstone.
The above image is a detail from a headstone. I tend to shy away from photographing headstones and actual grave markers in their entirety as to me they are personal things erected by family as memorials, but sometimes I photograph statuary and small details, trying to avoid the names and dates upon the stones. This stone is actually relatively old, 19thC in fact, but the carved vegetative design is still crisp, the narrow stems and the indentations in the flower still clearly visible and relatively unweathered despite the exposed position of the graveyard. 

I had a lot of fun wandering around the city and crossed the bridge to look for more buildings to and locations, in search of some variety. Inverness is a really interesting city, there are plenty of things to photograph. I have to explore  more of the Northern bank of the river and the city beyond.
Eden Court Theatre
It is not only Gothic Revival and other historic buildings that I enjoy photographing. This is Eden Court, a rather modern building. Eden Court was opened in April 1976. At the time, the design was strikingly modern, and to this day it is still striking and feels decidedly contemporary. It is a very angular building, but with interesting geometry - it is full of diagonals and not at all box-like. It is clad with a variety of textures and has a large amount of glass, making the building reasonably light indoors even with the notoriously dingy Scottish weather. When I first visited, I assumed the building was built in the last 10 years, not over 40 years ago. Eden Court is the only large performance venue in the region, with a very good variety of performances and exhibitions to attend. The building was designed by architects Law & Dunbar-Nasmith to house all types of performing arts from opera to drama and films (it is also a cinema and even shows art-house movies) to things like the HiEx comic convention.
Railings on an exterior stairwell.
Eden Court is a very interesting building. I think its strong lines, angular design and interesting textures, combined with a lot of interesting dark greys make it an interesting building for this blog, even if it is not Gothic, Perpendicular or Gothic Revival. Mind you, 20thC architecture has its links to the Gothic subculture too - after all, one of the seminal Goth bands is called 'Bauhaus'. Today I only took a few photographs of Eden Court, but I feel that it is one of these buildings that I will keep coming back to - expect to see more of it here on this blog. 
Architecture reflected in architecture
Sometimes the old and the new meet in clear contrast, such as the reflection of this Gothic Revival townhouse (I don't think it was built as a hotel or other non-residential building) caught in the polished surface of part of the cladding of Eden Court theatre, a building that, as you can see from previous photographs, is thoroughly modern. It is these sorts of little things that make me smile. Life is full of moments of unexpected beauty. 
I look for interesting architectural details wherever I go. This is an upper-floor arch between two curved turrets (the sort that are really stacked bay windows than actual turrets - towers, maybe) which have lovely "fantasy castle" conical roofs. This is part of the facade of the Palace Hotel, on the riverfront in central Inverness, across the bridge from most of the churches I photograph, on the road to the Cathedral and Eden Court. 
Arrogant Angel
Above is a rather arrogant looking angel I found nestled in a the concave nook of a corner. Its expression seems so haughty and condescending - not exactly suitable for an angel! I thought the attention to detail on the folds of its robes, the curls of its hair and the feathers of its wings were really quite exacting, so I wonder if the expression was the result of the mason making some sort of joke, and if the angel was modelled on a real person who exhibited such traits. It definitely seems to be looking down its nose at the humans walking around below it. 

Inverness has a truly vast cemetery at Tomnahurich. It has been used for centuries. I stayed over an hour there, on my first visit and only explored a small fraction of the graveyard. It is very leafy, and a good section of it on the hill is actually woodland. It has a variety of grave markers and monuments from the local Victorian-era style of grave-markers, to rather ornate graves, especially at the graves of families that had immigrated from Southern Europe, especially Italy. 
Hope, Faith and the Immortal Soul
The above figure is from a Victorian era grave, it is placed above the actual marker. The figure is an allegory of Hope, and the anchor represents the following passage from the Bible: "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil." (Hebrews 6:19), the five-pointed star on her brow is representative of the soul, and the hand across the heart a symbol of faith. The anchor itself echoes the cross with wreath in its design. There are actually quite a few figurative monuments and allegorical and religious statuary
Intriguing Statuary
This is part of a fabulous statue in a part of the cemetery where many Italian immigrant families are buried. It really intrigued me because I had never seen such a figure at a grave before. It is young woman down on one knee, barefoot in Neoclassical robes (and a Neoclassical style), with a scallop shaped bowl containing a cross with the iota-eta-sigma monogram resting at an angle in the bowl. Not only had I never seen such a statue at a grave, I had never seen such a statue at all. It would have been so useful had I taken a full-length picture of the statue rather than this bust. I asked Magdalena of ::Goth In Plain Sight:: who is rather knowledgeable in Christian iconography about it. It is a pilgrim to the shrine of Sant Iago. (Saint James.) There is a big shrine to him in Spain. The person buried there probably made the pilgrimage, or had some connection to the shrine. Maybe they were Spanish rather than Italian and that the area of the cemetery is bonded by common Catholicism rather than common location. 


  1. Really good and informative blog even learned something new, which doesn't happen often. Nice to see you working out better composition, and willing to move about unlike other photographers who always use the same perspective. I will 4give you for using the point and shoot but the big camera is fairly waterproof oh and it not on loan IT'S YOURS NUMPTY!

    1. Thanks :) I try to be informative and educational with my blog.

      I don't see the point of just standing in the obvious places. A lot of buildings are designed to look good from certain approaches, and are usually photographed from those approaches, but that doesn't mean that they look bad from other angles, and quite often it is not in the obvious places that the most interesting details turn up.

      I'd love to go back to Tomnahurich with the proper camera - there's so much there I haven't even tried to photograph yet, and I think a lot of what I did try to photograph would have turned out better.

      I can't keep something that valuable!! Don't be ridiculous.


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