Grave Matters.

This collection of graves from vastly different times in history, as well as varied cultures, allows the viewer to reflect on the physical resting place of the individuals and civilizations that generated the ideas and art by which we know them today. There is reference to societies’ changing perception about death and how human remains be kept and remembered; as well as the power, wealth, or lack of it, and the prevailing spirituality.

Jim Morrison, Paris
Title: Jim Morrison, Paris.
Oscar Wilde's Tomb, Paris
Title: Oscar Wilde's Tomb, Paris.

The site plans for graveyards have evolved over the centuries. The Mayan sacred sites are notable for their order as well as the majestic proportions and rich ornamentation of the architecture. In the Puuc Style the structures were assembled from a core of rubble and cement. This they ingeniously covered with carefully cut and fitted limestone, beautifully carved and heavily decorated, often with masks of gods.

Merida, Mexico
Merida, Mexico.

In contrast, the vast spaces of the Celtic graveyards of Ireland seem unplanned, the head stones seemingly scattered randomly around the central stone church. There is beauty and solitude on these wind swept rolling hills with their Celtic crosses and carved headstones embracing the place of worship. Before Christianity, there are the passage tombs, such as those found at Knowth , Newgrange and Tara. Archaeological studies of the tombs of Bru na Boinne (Bend in the Boyne) show a surprising artistic evolution occurring in the earliest megalithic art. All over Ireland, the inhabitants used portal tombs made of large slabs of existing rock erected over the graves.

Title: Glendalough.
Irish Graveyard
Title: Irish Graveyard.

The lawn cemeteries started in Victorian times, often referred to as ‘landscapes of death’, sustained the Romantic ideal of a garden cemetery. Ross Cemetery in Victoria is a good example. In popular resting places such as Pere Lachaise and Montmartre in Paris, the garden is crowded, as mausoleums and headstones are packed in to every square foot of space along the winding treed paths, resembling more our crowded cities than a tree filled ‘garden’. Still, there is serenity here, even though we are reminded of the power and wealth of the famous, in this city of the dead.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Title: Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
Ross Bay Cemetery
Title: Ross Bay Cemetery.
EmilyCarr, Victoria
Title: Emily Carr, Victoria.

In striking contrast, are the humble grave sites of early Canadian history. Many Aboriginal graves are marked with simple wooden crosses. Early pioneers share the same simplicity. Their sites are often located along a riverbank, confirming the mode of travel of the day, or scattered in an open prairie field. The Jewish cemetery in Saskatchewan testifies to the hardships of turn of the century refugees who abandoned their first settlement for better growing conditions in the north.

Earliest Banff Cemetary
Title: Earliest Banff Cemetery.

Grave sites tell us about the histories, the achievements, artistic practice, style and popular materials of the time. They also inform us of the strength of belief in an after life, of the burial rituals and the access to land and labour.

A solo exhibition at the Richmond Gateway Theatre, Richmond, BC. January 16 to March 19, 2007.