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, 12 August 2018

Cardigan/Aberteifi - Castle and Historic Church

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was in Wales a few weeks ago, visiting my Dad. While I was there, I visited three castles and a few old churches. I'm not sure quite how 'Gothic' in the spooky sense of the word this is, but it is Gothic in the architectural sense. It's hard to feel spooky on a day with such bright sunshine - glorious for many, but too warm for me!

This post does include a spider photograph, so if you're averse to spiders, then don't scroll past the ornate door. I have put it as the last photograph so you can still appreciate the others without having to look at spiders. 

Restored curtain wall, Cardigan Castle. Photo by me.
Cardigan/Aberteifi is on the River Teifi, and we went there to visit the indoor market, and have a look around. I had had been there before, and knew it had a castle, and it was restored in 2014 (which I had read about). The first time I had been to Cardigan was before that, and while I think local council owned it at the time, it was in disrepair after having been neglected by its previous owner and inhabitant for many decades. Unfortunately, while the entrance fee was modest, I didn't have enough money on me, so I didn't get to go inside the grounds. From what I gather, most of the buildings on site are later, but it has nice gardens, and I was hoping to at least look at the gardens, but it was not to be. I did take a couple of photographs of the exterior, however.

Secondary wall, embankment, and then primary wall with tower...
And a much later additional house/cottage, affiliated with the castle. Photo by me.
Another gem was a rather lovely medieval church that has been extended several times over the centuries. The church is The Priory Church of Our Lady of Cardigan (I don't know what that is in Welsh, although I did read it and I've since forgotten it). It is in a very beautiful graveyard, and next to a hospital but also next to a busy road. I did take some exterior photographs, but they didn't turn out very well. I apologise for no good overview photographs. My partner Raven also took some nice photographs, so with his permission, I have included those too. 

Photograph by myself. Gravestones in rows through yew trees.
The graveyard is mostly older graves, although I did not go around and get a particularly good average for the estimate age - looked like mostly 1700s and 1800s gravestones.They are almost all made of the same sort of grey stone as the church and the castle, and most are a slab given a roughly arched shape with text - not like some of the Protestant chapel yards, full of urns and obelisks, or a chapel on a hill we visited, which had a much wider variety of stones. (Unfortunately I accidentally deleted many of the photos of that particular chapel! )

Photo by Raven. 
This is the far corner of the graveyard. All along the back wall are grave-stones laid vertical, with the climbing plants sort of taking over in places. I don't know if they are memorials from plots that were re-used, or if this is just where fallen-over stones got placed, or if there were just a lot of people buried along the wall. 

I also think this photo goes to show what a bright and sunny day it was - very hot, a few wispy white clouds, and scorching brightness. Personally, I found it too hot; I overheat easily and get sun-burnt just as easily, so I prefer cloudier, cooler days. Some people love the sun, but I have to hide under hats, long-sleeved floaty clothes and lots of sun-screen.  
Dead Tree. Photo by Raven 
I'm not sure what kind of tree this was when it was alive. There were plenty of yew trees, but yews are poisonous to other plants, so I doubt that there would be other plants growing from it if it were a yew. The tree stump felt almost sculptural, and its timbers bleached grey-white seemed fitting with the stone and almost skeletal itself. 

Grave with ornate carving. Photo by Raven.
This gravestone near the entrance was interesting - it had some sort of crest surrounded by a laurel wreath or other foliage, but it has suffered the ravages of time - the central design, presumably a monogram, is pretty much illegible, and any motto or similar on the banner beneath the leaves has long since de-laminated. I think perhaps the topmost leafs have lost some mass, too. It's interesting to see a headstone carved in the shape of a Dutch gable, too. 

Architectural salvage. Photograph by Raven.
I'm not sure which part of the building this detail came from - I couldn't even figure it out by looking at it - it's some part of some Gothic details, but it's also a broken jigsaw piece of architectural history.  Raven took this photograph of it - I guess it looks sort of abandoned in this corner of the porch, but really it's a sign that someone's put it there so it doesn't get discarded. I don't know where on the building it used to belong - perhaps part of something that has since been altered, so it can't go back - but whatever it was, it is put there where it is not forgotten.  It's almost on display. 

Monk. Photograph by me
This monk's head terminates the arch over the porch. It looks like one of the more recent additions to the church. From what I gather of the church's history, I think at some point it was connected to a monastery as well as a priory (I'm really no expert on this), which I guess is why they used monks as a decorative motif. There's one at both ends of the archway, looking solemnly upon all those who enter the church. I don't know if they are representative of specific people or not.

Ornate ironmongery.  Photograph by me. 
Both Raven and I admired the ornate doors - I don't know how old they are, perhaps Victorian, perhaps earlier, but they have the most fabulous swirling ironwork on them.  I have a thing for doors and windows - maybe it's liminality of them. I also really appreciate when something that doesn't need to be ornate gets an artistic treatment. Plenty of church doors have much simpler hinges, some have fancier, but it's nice to see something like this. Someone put enough time, money and effort in for this to be not just an ordinary door - probably several people; someone to make the timbers into a door, someone (or some people) to do the metalwork, someone who designed it, someone who paid for it... Someone who checked that it would fit in the aperture of the door frame! It's not as common these days, to have such things made, and I think we're losing out. 

There are several stained glass windows in the church - framed by stone tracery that looks very, very old indeed - but maybe not as old as the apertures in the walls, as they look like they once had larger arches and arched tracery rather than arches in rectangles. I don't know exactly how many phases of construction and alteration there have been (I counted at least 5) but it's got so much history built into the walls. It was really quite fascinating. 

Spider, photograph by me.
I really like spiders. Raven, not so much. I saw this spindly one on its thread in the porch window. 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Domesticated: Study Decor

Originally, when I set up Domesticated Goth, I intended it to be about crafts, homemaking, cooking and decorating - a blog to give people ideas on how to make Gothic things for their house, small art projects, etc. Unfortunately, I moved into a rental apartment that had strict rules on decorating, and that put a real dampener on that idea, and instead the blog evolved into a more general Gothic & Goth lifestyle bog, with Gothic tourism, art projects, accounts of my involvement with Gothic Lolita, photography, the odd musical post (I am terrible at writing about music intelligently) and discussion of the Goth subculture itself. 

Three years ago, however, Raven and I bought a house - we didn't buy it outright, we have a mortgage on it, and it's not a very big house, but it's where we call home. Over that time, we've been decorating. Not all of the house is Gothic (the living & dining rooms are open-plan with each other, and have a more earthy, slightly witchy sort of feel, with lots of greens, dark wood and natural and Pagan motifs) and some rooms are more Gothic than others. There's also still a lot of work to be done, so many rooms are still very incomplete; we don't have much money, so we can't hire people to decorate for us, and we barely have the time and the money to do it ourselves, so it has been dragging on. However, my study is the smallest room that isn't a bathroom, and therefore it's one of the more complete.

Spiderweb candelabra and skulls are still quite 'Hallowe'en'
My initial idea was to decorate it in a deliberately kitschy, Hallowe'en-esque sort of way - LOTS of skulls, cartoon bat decals on the windows and ceilings, and quite a vivid purple (Valspar's 'Purple Storm'). However, having had the room for 3 years, I feel that style both feels a bit overbearing and doesn't really reflect my personal aesthetic any more, as I've definitely got further and further into a Romantic, Gothic and very Victorian/anachronistic sort of aesthetic, and I want my study to feel more like it is inhabited by a vampire from an Anne Rice novel than one from a Tim Burton movie. I've still got the vinyl decals on my window because I simply can't get them off, and I think I'm going to have to use a heat-gun to remove them!

My window, with its bat stickers as well as SunSeal mandalas
There are a lot of pentagrams and stars hanging up in my window.
Some of the vinyl decals, those of Gothic architecture and Gothic arches, I will keep. I feel like it's still in keeping with the reproduction 1820s Gothic Revival wallpaper of window tracery, especially the arcade of grey/silver arches - something I need to get a good photograph of! I'm in two minds about the vinyl decals of buildings. I'm not sure if they are too cartoonish to look good, or if their simplicity is a good thing, or whether they should go entirely, or whether I should carefully take a scalpel to them and give them a few more details to make them a bit classier (including making some of the Romanesque arches into Gothic ones!). I don't want to make my study too Victorian either; my 1960's house doesn't have high enough ceilings to really pull off the Victorian look without feeling claustrophobic; the spaces are too horizontal. 

The rounded arches and lack of details annoy me!
I have two favourite sections of my study so far, my 'book nook' reading corner, and my feature wall. My study has a weird L-shape, with a short stubby bit over the staircase, and an above-the-stairs cupboard that I store manga and art materials in. In the stubby area, I have a book-case, a corner unit, a wicker peacock-back chair (inspired by Morticia Addams) and a two-handed broadsword! The broadsword is a claymore, the distinctive variation from Scotland. 

My book nook. Chair pulled out to get a good photograph.
The bookcase is all non-fiction. The top shelf is architecture books, the middle shelf history, culture and anthropology, and the bottom shelf is for big A4+ size books, mostly art, but a few history ones too. It's not big enough for all of my art and architecture or history books, but it's got a few. More shelving is actually something my study desperately needs, and is something I've been working on. Some friends of mine are moving to Scandinavia, and have a lovely double-Gothic-arch bookcase that I would like to buy off them, and I've put two new above-door shelves up in my study, one above the main door for ornaments, and one above the cubby door for notebooks (you can see a bracket for it, sans shelf, in the photo above). I'm awaiting some more shelves in our bedroom, so that I can move all my fiction books out of their stacks under my study desk! I've also got a stack of art books under my study desk, and another stack of art books next to the book-case, all of art books too big to go on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. I've got a few shelves above my desk, but they're for art materials, not books. 

Cubby visible in mirror!
My cubby needs a lot of work; it already has shelves, but they're too broadly spaced out, but too close to simply put an additional shelf in between - I need to take the existing shelves out and put new ones in.  There's also a crack where the back board of the cupboard has come away from the wall, and I'm not sure what the best way to deal with that is, as the problem appears to be lack of an allowance for the expansion and contraction of the building. I think perhaps an L-shaped piece of wood, attached to the brick wall and not the board, will cover the gap while allowing the different materials to expand and contract sensibly. I'm not sure whether the back wall of the cubby should have wallpaper or be painted, and if so, what colours. I also want to save up to get an electrician in, both to move the main overhead light at the conjunction of the two parts of the study, but also to install an additional light in the ceiling of the cubby, so I can see what's in there better. 

The purple and gold book is actually a Harry Potter themed lamp! They're available ::here:: and at the time of writing, they're on sale below half price at £35 (hence why I could afford one!). I'm a bit of a Harry Potter fan, so this was perfect. If there had been a silver on purple version, I would have loved that even more. I had the cover text customised to 'Liber Lux' - book of light (probably slightly wonky Latin; it's been over 12 years since I studied Latin!). When you open it up, the pages light up, and create a lovely ambient glow. I put mine on a mini-lectern/book stand so I can use it while I'm letter-writing or whatnot.

My mini-bodhran and a Gods' Eye weave.
Another thing I use my study for is music practice. I have my bodhran and my doumbek, my fiddle and a whole lot of recorders (flûte à bec, not for recording music), whistles and flutes. Eventually I wish to move my harmonium (pedal organ) up into my study, but my staircase is steep and winding, and Raven and I alone are not strong enough to carry it upstairs; I think it's a four-person job, but not a four-person staircase! I'd like to get a piano for the living-room to sit where the harmonium currently is; I used to play, and my nice piano is at my father's house. 

Raven, in front of a resin crow figure from TKMaxx
The silver and black damask bag behind has love-letters he sent me.
The silver and black box below has letters from friends and family.
I also have a desk, which is where my computer sits, and where I do a lot of my art-work. I haven't taken any proper photographs of the desk itself, because currently my desktop is just some MDF (medium-density fibreboard) and I'd like to get something like some black sparkle formica to make desk-top. I've been looking at the wonderful geode-inspired resin art-work of ::Mrs ColorBerry:: (which is totally incredible; I seriously recommend checking it out!) and I'd like to learn to do something similar to make a cool poured-resin worktop for my desk, although I wonder how heavy that would be! Raven built my desk, and to get ornate table-legs, he cut some banister spindles down to size! 
Hand-painted skulls, and easy DIY project. Just prime then paint!
I do like skull motifs, even if they are sometimes a bit kitschy. These three are small skull decorations from Hallowe'en - £2 for a pack of 9 - which I repainted using nail-polish, to immortalise some of my favourite nail-polish combinations. The iridescent green and purple one is my favourite. These skulls are tiny, about and inch and a half high each. 

I love the Art Nouveau packaging
I love burning incense in my study, although it tends to leave an ashy, dusty mess around the burner. I keep the incense for my study (which has cheesy names like 'Werewolf's Bite' or 'Gothic Prayer') in that purple vase. I used to have dried roses in the vase, but they just disintegrated entirely. I love the Art Nouveau packaging for the 'Yesteryears' incense, so I keep that particular incense out on display. The wall faces on the window aperture are painted a lighter purple (I think it's called either 'Lightning Bolt' or 'Haunting Melody'; I can't remember which of those two I eventually settled on. More Valspar paint.) 

My favourite part of my study is the wall behind where I sit at my desk. I painted it black, with silver glitter dusted into the paint, and it is the feature wall I use to display art work. The art work is on rotation. Currently I've got a lenticular image of a crow on a skull, which I think is from Alchemy Gothic, and a postcard of a cat as Moriarty (having stolen the crown jewels). Half of the picture frames are from TKMaxx and Dunelm Mill, and the other half are thrifted. I'm starting to swap out the artwork for fine art images. Not really visible in this picture, but the image in the concentric rectangles frame at the upper left is a postcard of a Edward Burne Jones sketch  (it is of a woman looking down to her left, with a crown of golden leaves, done in chalks or pastels on a purple background, you can see a version ::here::). I'm going to hopefully fill all the frames with classic art soon, just need to accumulate prints/postcards at the right size. The picture of my father (at work, he's an archaeologist) on the far right is going to be re-framed in a black frame and moved to our bedroom, where we have a wall of friends and family pictures.

Display wall from the other angle, with sword.
Also note the Gothic Revival wallpaper in grey.
You may have noticed I have another sword. I collect them, especially antiques. The sword on my display wall is an antique officer's dress sword from the 1870s-1880s, from Italy, with a beautifully engraved blade. I love the duality of beautifully made weaponry; both artistic and aesthetic, yet designed for a lethal function. There are dents along the spine of the dress sword that indicate it's been used in some form of combat, and I wonder if someone fought a duel with it. It's definitely not a battle weapon (unlike say, a cavalry sabre). 

Unfinished wall with broken sconce; the mirror got shattered.

As you can see, this is not a complete over view of my study, and there is much left to do. I'm going to put a Gothic arched cabinet over my radiator, and I've got facings to put on the shelves over my door. I need to take more pictures of things I have added to my study, like the two new shelves. I still don't have a final floor covering; I've got a rug over floor-boards as I can't afford enough laminate flooring to cover my study yet (however I do have a roll of underlay!). I'm going to try and 3D print a single tile of cornice, then make a mould, and then use that to make dozens of foam ones, in order to get a repeating Gothic arch design to go around where the ceiling connects to the walls. I've already painted skirting board gloss black, but I can't put that in until I've got the laminate floor down. I still don't have enough shelving, as detailed above, and I still have lots of stuff in boxes. 

If my readers are interested, I can update the blog with progress on my study, and with how other rooms are decorated. Please comment if you want to see more of the Gothic décor in my house. There's the witchy living & dining area mentioned before, a French belle-epoque inspired aesethetic, just with added skulls, for our main bedroom, a more modern take on Gothic decor for the spare bedroom/games room and the kitchen. The upstairs hallway is going to be quite opulent, with some really fabulous wall-paper, but I'm still currently stripping the original wallpaper! 

I also suggest checking out two Gothic DIY blogs:
::GIY: Goth It Yourself::, which is currently on hiatus, but which has an archive of PLENTY of projects worth reading and looking at, and
::Me And Annabel Lee:: which is also full of wonderful Gothic decorating and craft ideas and tutorials.