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..

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Multicolour Hair... Again!

My hair is once again a mixture of cool-tone colours, but this time a slightly different selection. My friend Catastrophe Plague helped me with the dyeing.

Selfies taken on Raven's phone.

I started off with bleaching my regrowth and the under layers of my hair, which with my length of hair and how dark my natural hair colour is (dark cool-toned brown), means I have to bleach it in two sessions with several boxes of bleach. I left a lot of my hair jade-green, especially near the tips, as several years of bleaching my hair every few months mean it isn't as healthy as it could be (and the tips definitely need trimming as some are a bit fried) so I try not to over-bleach it if I can avoid it. If the gradient with the bleaching had been smoother, and if I felt that blonde suited me, I might have kept it with the green ombre effect, but alas I am so pale that blonde makes me look the wrong sort of ghostly.

That's not mould by the radiator, that's wallpaper remnants.

Catastrophe took the photo above, and Catastrophe was the one who dyed most of my hair. They separated my hair into horizontal layers, with a rat-tail comb and some hair-tyes, and then started sectioning the lower layer of hair, by the nape of my neck, into locks of about an inch of hair at a time, and tied each of those up with a hair-tie. Catastrophe then went systematically through my hair, dyeing each lock separately. Each lock of hair received its own blend of colours, with the lowest layer being mixtures of fuschia and purple, the next layer being violet and blue, the next layer being blue and turquoise and the top layer being turquoise and green. 

I left my make-up on... Oops.

I ended up sitting around a while with my hair in about 30 tiny pony-tails, all looped back on themselves, looking rather silly, and with dye all over my face, but it worked out really well in the end, and I think Catastrophe did an amazing job on my hair! This is my favourite multi-colour hair look so far, the colours are just the sorts that I love, and the 

Taken in the dimming light, but hopefully the colours show

Dyes Used
A variety of dyes got used, a few being left over from the last time I dyed my hair multiple colours. I have all the left over dyes stored in plastic clip-lid tubs for when I need to touch this up. The dyes used were:
Stargazer Magenta
Directions Violet
Directions Lagoon Blue
Stargazer Tropical Green
Directions Apple Green
Stargazer African Green
As you can probably tell from the results, the magenta was mostly mixed in with the violet, and the African green used quite sparingly this time. I really love the vibrant emerald green of the Directions Apple Green layered over both the very bleached and jade sections of my hair. 

For comparison, here are the previous times I have had multicolour hair:

This was the first time I dyed my hair multiple colours, even if it was just a variety of greens in a vertical gradient "ombre" effect. I only had this style temporarily as it wasn't work suitable, and I did it for Hallowe'en. I blogged about it ::here:: when I did it. I liked how it turned out, and was sad that I could not keep it in my hair. I think this was the first time I had a really luminous, vibrant lime green in my hair, too. I like the colour, but in retrospect I think that the cooler green tones suit me better than the warmer ones.

The next time I tried multicolour hair was last summer, when I did it for my friend's wedding - to match the colourful outfit I wore, which involved an emerald green dress and a violet jacket. I used quite a few more colours than I had before, and this was the first time I used blues and purples with green. I did my hair mostly on my own, with some assistance from Raven, and realised that hair this complicatedly coloured was really a two-person task. The purple did NOT stay in my hair well, and I used magenta over it for the first time to make it more vibrant. I blogged about that half-spectrum of colours ::here::.

This was the time after that... it had actually started fading in this set of selfies, but there was definitely more turquoise and blue than previous times. These pictures were tweaked slightly to counteract bad lighting, but give a pretty good example of what my hair was like. I did put purple in initially, but again, it washed out pretty rapidly. I have only had the latest dyes in one week, and I hope they last a bit better than before. I have learnt to use less shampoo with vibrant hair, as it is the shampoo that washes the colour out the fastest. Washing it without shampoo at all would just leave my hair greasy, so I have to use some, but I try to use it mostly near the scalp where my hair gets greasiest, and to not use too much. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Graveyard Etiquette

In my last post I mentioned graveyard picnics, and it got me thinking about being respectful in graveyards. Something I have come across is a perception that Goths are disrespectful to cemeteries and graveyards, or that we will vandalise them. I even know someone who was removed from a graveyard simply because of how they were dressed. This is mostly a prejudicial attitude that comes from a general perception of Goths as delinquents, but sadly there have been instances where members of the Goth community have damaged graveyards - most notably the situation in Whitby where Goths and opportunistic photographers have caused an issue with the local cemetery due to people clambering on the stones to pose on them for photographs. There are sometimes occasions where "Satanic" or "occult" graffiti appears in graveyards, and this is often presumed to be the work of Goths - I doubt that it actually is, but again, this is a thoroughly wrong thing to do. 

I would say, from my experience of Goths, that we tend to actually be a lot more attached to graveyards and cemeteries, especially ones that don't contain the last resting place of a loved one, than a lot of more mainstream people, who generally avoid them. We're more likely to be interested in things like the symbolism in the carvings, the history of the place, and suchlike, and we are also more likely to visit them for some peace and quiet (I have actually written ::this:: post explaining why I like visiting graveyards, because a lot of people, mostly mainstream people, think it is weird), and as such, I think a lot of Goths find it very upsetting when someone desecrates or vandalises a graveyard, and as such would never do anything like that themselves. 

There are, however, those amongst all groups of people who are not very respectful of their surroundings, sometimes just out of not thinking rather than actual malice. I definitely think there is an issue when it comes to people not being respectful or thoughtful when doing graveyard photoshoots. I've been both the model and the photographer in graveyard pictures, and when doing such, try to minimise my impact and do so respectfully.

An important distinction is between historic and contemporary graveyards. More recent graveyards are often arranged with roads within them wide enough for a motorised hearse, more accessible paths (e.g paved or gravel, etc.) and the monuments are usually in better condition (but don't climb on them), however they are also in active use, so people will be visiting them as mourners visiting loved ones, and it is even more important to remain respectful of other cemetery-goers, and not to do anything that could impact on its use. Historic cemeteries often have very interesting and sometimes quite large and elaborate statues, mausoleums, tombs, etc. but they also tend to have less accessible paths, and the monuments can be in a state of disrepair; I know several locally where some of the mausoleums are in such a dangerous state of dereliction that they have to be fenced off with warning signs, and others where some of the graves have sunken downwards - in such places, keep to marked paths if possible, and avoid entering the mausoleums, especially if they look unstable or are closed off. I know they're enchantingly gorgeous, but that's not worth ending up as a permanent resident... 

There is also a difference between municipal or council-run cemeteries and ones attached to a place of worship. Obviously, if you are in a graveyard associated to a church, cathedral or chapel, one should be respectful to the place as a religious place as well as a place of rest for the dead. The church may well still be in use, even in historic graveyards with no new graves and is important to both be respectful of those attending the church and not to do anything that might disturb them; do not be noisy, for example, especially when there is a service of any sort in session, and remember that services are not only on Sunday mornings! 

So here are my guidelines to cemetery behaviour. This is based around my experience in the UK, and other cultures have different etiquette for visiting graveyards.

1) Do not clamber on the statues/grave-stones/grave-markers/tombs. From a practical standpoint, you could damage them. Yes, a lot of them are made of stone, but stone weathers with age, and not all stones have the same sort of strengths. A lot of times it is the details of carvings which become fragile, and some stones become soft, friable or flaky with weathering. Acidic rain from the industrial revolution onwards has had a very depressing impact on specific kinds of stone, especially. 

From a perspective of being respectful, these are people's burial places and it can be considered disrespectful to those interred and their families to be using their markers as props for photo-shoots, something to clamber on, etc. 

2) Do not drop litter. If you are having a picnic, or bringing any kind of food or something with a wrapper (even if it's just the plastic over a sketchbook, for example), either dispose of it in a bin, or take it home with you.  A lot of cemeteries and graveyards have bins provided, especially ones which get frequent traffic, and ones still in use, but even if they don't, that is no excuse to be slobbish and leave litter. 

3) Don't let your dogs foul the graveyard, and if there's a sign saying no dogs, then respect it. Personally, I wouldn't bring a dog into a graveyard at all, and if I did, I would keep it on a lead, especially if its liable to go chasing the squirrels or something, to preserve both the peace of the place and the statuary and tributes from getting knocked or damaged. If you do bring your dog into the graveyard, and it uses it as a toilet, please clean up after it. Just imagine the person who has to use a strimmer on the grass finding concealed dog faeces. 

4) Respect the peace of the graveyard as resting place. You do not have to keep to absolute silence, but using quiet voices and not being raucous or to bouncy is probably a good idea, especially in one where people have recently been interred, and where people might be visiting as mourners. Treat it as a garden of quiet contemplation, not a public playground. 

4) Don't let children play in the graveyard. Some children can be trusted to be well-behaved and quiet within graveyards, others can't. Don't let children climb on the stones, run around very excitedly, or otherwise behave in a manner that might damage the graveyard, cause injury to themselves (recently a boy was crushed to death by a gravestone as can be read about ::here::). Graveyards are not a safe place for play, especially as tombs can become unstable over time. 

5) Leave tributes alone - don't mess with anything anyone has put on a grave. Absolutely NEVER take anything left by mourners on a grave. The only exception I would see is if a real candle was lit and something had fallen or was in a position where it might cause a fire-hazard. 

6) Don't use it as a place to host your super-spooky 'ritual' or seance or whatever. Most graveyards are associated to a church, and it is disrespectful to them as hallowed ground places of Christian worship. It is also not a good idea to do this in municipal/council-run cemeteries, as many people would consider it disrespectful. You can do a seance in your own home. Sometimes ghost-hunting groups can get permission to engage in their practices with permission from whoever runs the cemetery, but do not do anything of that nature without permission. 

7) Pay close attention to the opening and closing times. Many graveyards and cemeteries shut at night due to problems with drunks and delinquents being a nuisance after dark, and if you stay too late, you run the risk of both being locked in, and being considered a miscreant. Don't try and jump the fence after closing; respect that whoever runs it is entitled to set their own opening hours. 

These are the 7 things I would give as 'rules', but also check to see if there are signs by the entrances specifying additional rules. Just because I haven't mentioned something, that does not automatically make it a good idea, and if in doubt, it's better to be safe than sorry.  

Notes for photographers
I would avoid are taking photographs of the text on markers; to me, that is the private details of whomever is buried there, and is for their family, not for everyone to gawp over, but that is my personal preference. As you may note from my photography, I tend to either photograph only a small detail, or the whole cemetery, rather than focusing on specific stones. 

I also would never pose, or act (in the theatrical sort of way) as a 'widow' or 'mourner' at someone's specific gravestone; that person probably already had real mourners, and it seems distasteful to play at being mourner when someone probably suffered real grief and pain over the person that was buried there. I would not encourage anyone modelling for me to do so either. 

In a similar manner, I would not encourage anyone to model, nor model myself, in an overtly sexual way. I think this would be disrespectful to those interred, and to those visiting, especially those who are going there for a sombre purpose.  Mix the iconography of sex and death, by all means, but don't be disrespectful in a cemetery to do so.