Monday, 4 November 2013


I'm feeling abit sad that Halloween is over, it's my favourite time of year, and this year was the best Halloween i've ever had, I spent the day having a tour round Highgate cemetery, such a beautiful place.
I managed to get some pictures, unfortunately just phone snaps but they capture some of the atmosphere of the place.
I adore the stone angels and there are so many of these adorning Highgate cemetery, rising from the undergrowth, reaching for heaven.

A rather beautiful Gothic style vault in the Egyptian circle here, belonging to Carl Rosa and his family, Carl Rosa was a German musical impresario who founded the Carl Rosa Opera Company in 1873. His is one of a number of Gothic style vaults lining this pathway.

Another Beautiful monument in the west cemetery is this Sleeping Lion, his name was Nero and he belonged to famous menagerie exhibitor George Wombwell, Nero was a docile Lion, it is said children used to climb all over him.

This is one of my favourite tombstones in Highgate, a sleeping angel, lying amongst the leaves and vines

All the vault doors in the cemetery are decorated with Inverted torches symbolizing life extinguished, another interesting detail is the keyholes on each vault are also inverted.

  1. Silently, silently
    They are laid to rest,
    Free from care, over there,
    Dwelling with the blest.
    They shall bear no more life’s burdens,
    Sickness, sorrow, death, or pain;
    In that spirit-land they’re waiting,
    Where with Christ their souls shall reign.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

New French Post Mortem

My second birthday present from my parents was a lovely little French Post Mortem Cabinet Card (I chose it) its a small sized card, and I love it, its so delicate and beautiful.

Here I am holding it so you can get an idea of its size, I went through a phase of the bigger the better with the photos I was buying, but I'm getting much more interested in the little ones recently. There's something so fragile and delicate about the small ones that is so beautiful. I have another one this size and they look so lovely together, a good quality image in this size of cabinet card is just unbeatable! 

Here is a scan of the full thing, as I've mentioned it's from France, the child is posed outside judging from the wall behind. He or she has the typical 'death curl' in the hair and the face is just heartbreaking and slightly spooky. This poor child looks so fragile in death, hopefully this photograph brought some comfort to the parents and helped preserve the child's memory.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Birthday Tintypes

I got some lovely little tintypes for my birthday, they came from America, I do adore American Tintypes.
They are all children, two of them feature 'hidden mothers' where a parent had to hide just on the edge of the shot to hold a baby still for the picture, mine just feature an arm and side of head, the best hidden mother pictures have the whole figure draped in black fabric, it looks incredibly spooky.

Here they are in my hand to give an idea of size, they're very small and delicate.

The first one features a baby being held up by its mothers arm, the rest of her being out of shot. I love the way the baby is slumped in the chair in this one, makes it look quite weird. A lot of uneducated people online would say this was a postmortem picture (like they do about any slightly spooky looking photo from this era) but this was in fact a common way of trying to keep a baby still for long exposure times, as were stands with a neck holder for adults, this isn't holding up a corpse but just a way occasionally used to help keep subjects still for long periods.

This next one is beautiful, the detail is so lovely, it features the child's father holding her up with a fabric draped arm, you can see the side of his head in the image, this was originally hidden behind a paper mount.

This third one I thought was just lovely, the child looks so sweet just sat there with a funny face, he or she had done a good job of sitting for the picture as it doesn't look anyone is holding them up.

Sunday, 23 June 2013


I was sorting my old bureau out and I found an unfinished piece of work from years ago, I must have not liked it at the time and shoved it in the bureau, but on seeing it again I loved it and really wanted to finish it.

This was what I had to start me off, I got my super fine liners out again and got to work on it.
I'm really happy with the results, seeing as I haven't done any drawing in way too long

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Glasseyes Top 5 Graves

Someone on twitter recently linked me to an article featuring top ten graves, possibly from the Guardian or something similar, and I just had to do my own.
I have decided to do a top 5 and possibly another 5 some time in the future to spread it out abit, the majority of the photographs here are not mine, as I have only photographed one of the graves myself, I would love to visit the US ones for myself. 
Here we go.

5. Jays Grave

The story behind Jay's grave takes place at the turn of the 18th century near Dartmoor in Devon, Jay was an orphan girl taken into a poorhouse as a baby and given the name Mary Jay or Kitty Jay.
She was taken on to work at a farmhouse on the edge of Dartmoor where she fell in love with the farmers son and became pregnant. The farmers son and his family refused her and he denied any involvement, she was turned away from the farm with no where to go. 
With her only prospect returning to the poor house Mary Jay took her only other option and was found hanged in a barn in the surrounding countryside. 
At the time suicides could not be buried on consecrated ground and were buried at crossroads to prevent their soul returning to haunt the living.
Mary 'kitty' Jay was buried at an intersection of a country road and the grave was known as Jays Grave.

Locals say that in the years following her death a figure could be seen on moonlit nights kneeling at her graveside with head in hands. The identity of the figure was never determined but until this day fresh flowers regularly appear on the grave although no one has ever been seen to place them.

The story inspired a song by folk musician Seth Lakeman

4. Julius Beer (1836 - 1880)

I have visited Julius Beers beautiful mausoleum in Highgate Cemetery, London twice now and it really is stunning, Julius Beer was born in Frankfurt to a poor family, he traveled to London to try and make his fortune and dealt on the Stock Exchange, later becoming the proprietor of the Observer Newspaper. Beer felt ostracized by Victorian society for being Jewish and a foreigner, he had his tomb built on the highest point in Highgate so he could be above the people he hadn't felt had accepted him in life.

                                         Photo by John Gay for English Heritage 

The reason this grave has made it onto my list, as well as Beers interesting life, is the beautiful statue inside, which is a memorial to his daughter. The statue depicts his daughter being taken to heaven by an angel, she had died before her father. The statue was done by Hugh H Armstead.
The first time I visited we could only peek through the keyhole to the interior but on my second visit, the guide unlocked it and we could go inside. I have read somewhere that the likeness of Beers daughter in the statue was copied from her death mask.

My Boyfriend took these photos on our visit to Highgate, pics by MessyVignette

The stunning ceiling

                                         Photograph copyright - Evissa 

3. Timothy Clark Smith (1821 - 1893)

Timothy Clark Smith was a Doctor from Vermont who suffered from a fear of being buried alive, there were many stories in the Victorian age of people being buried alive and this must have been a real fear for many people. Before modern advances in medicine it was possible to be pronounced dead and buried whilst merely in a coma.
Timothy died in on Halloween 1893, he had designed his tomb to be built so that a cement tube ran from directly above his face to the surface, with a piece of glass covering the opening, creating a window down to where he lay. This window still remains in Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven. 

it is only possible to see a couple of feet down due to condensation, the condition of the glass and darkness. There are stories, more likely urban legends, from many years ago, where people have claimed to have been able to see Dr Smiths skeletal face through the window. It was also reported that a hammer and chisel were seen next to him, to aid his escape should he wake up. The story goes that he was also buried with a bell to ring should he wake up, I guess we'll never know weather he was really buried with these items or not.

2. Florence Irene Ford (1861 - 1871)

I have posted an entry on this blog about Irene's grave before, but my top ten would not be complete without this beautiful story. I will do a brief recap if you are not familiar with Florence.

Florence died of Yellow Fever aged 10, during her life she was terrified of storms and needed comfort from her mother whenever there was a storm.
When she died her mother was so grief stricken, she couldn't bear the thought of her daughter alone in her grave during the storms she so feared.
She commissioned Florence's coffin to be built with a window at the child's head. The grave was dug with a tiny room at the same depth as the coffin next the head, this little area had steps leading down to it, so that Florence's mother could go down whenever there was a storm and comfort her daughter. To shelter the mother, metal trap doors were put at the top of the flight of stairs. The grave, doors and stairs down still remain in Natchez City Cemetery, Mississippi  but a concrete wall was built to cover the coffin in the 1950's to prevent vandalism.

1. John Garmston Hopkins (1857 - 1871)

Here is another grave I have recently posted about on here, but this is by far my number 1 grave, I think because I'm such a visual person and the photograph mounted into this grave is absolutely beautiful. This is also in a church very close to where I work, in Worcester UK, so I feel even more of a connection to it.
I recently went to photograph it and a little further down my blog you'll find more photographs of it.

When John Garmston Hopkins died aged 14 in Worcester, his father, a Hop Merchant in the city, commissioned a monument to be made including a photograph taken after the boys death which is mounted into the stone beneath thick glass.
The monument stands in the porch at St Johns Bedwardine Church in Worcester, and it a beautiful, tragic memorial to the young boy.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

1920s Fancy Dress

We received a bundle of old photographs recently from a family member on my mums side. My mum is looking into her family history and has been asking around to find more pictures and information. Among the new pictures was an incredible, tiny picture of my Great Aunts school class on a fancy dress day in, I am guessing late 1920s.
I took two pictures of it to show the most interesting costumes, the main standout one is the amazing homemade, slightly weird looking Gollywog. My mum rang my Great Aunt who is now 90 years old to ask her about it and it turns out my Great Aunt is, in fact the child inside the Gollywog costume, she says she hated wearing it, and was really annoyed that she had to! I've seen and collected so many 1920s era fancy dress photographs, mainly from my own family, but until this one none of the subjects still survive, so it was great to hear her first hand account of it. Her parents certainly made some effort making it.

To the left side of the Gollywog is an incredibly weird looking costume, which is very spooky on first glance, as it looks like a faceless child, like some weird slenderman type figure.
A more detailed look and we think it is meant to be a duck outfit, with the winged sleeve and flipper like feet,  but how the child could see is abit of a mystery!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A terrible image

I started a new job in January, in StJohns, Worcester and I've actually become quite fond of StJohns, its nothing special at all, but there's something about it.
While I was researching for my dissertation a few years ago I came across a reference to a very unusual monument in StJohns church that I have been meaning to go and look for for the past 3 years and now I work down the road from the church I really have no excuse!

I wasn't even sure it would still be there, as I couldn't find much about it online, but I went to have a look, and there it was in the porch of the church and it took my breath away, it's absolutely stunning.
The monument is to the two sons of Thomas Hopkins, a hop merchant in the city, his eldest son John died in January 1871.
Thomas Hopkins had the monument made to include a photograph of the dead boy, aged 14 when he died, the photograph was taken by Francis Charles Earl of Worcester Broad Street, the image is large, 6 by 13 inches and is set in a monument with stone angels and a plaque to John and his younger brother Jonathon who died a few years after John at the age of 2.

I am currently reading the fantastic book 'The English Way of Death' by Julian Litten and the book includes a little bit about the image and he describes it beautifully

"Although he was obviously placed carefully on the sofa, the freshly pomaded hair is awry and could have benefited from a comb prior to being photographed. It is a terrible image, the child so patently dead and cold. Yet perhaps Thomas Hopkins and his wife took some solace in so commemorating the death of their eldest son" 

I photographed the monument and almost didn't want to leave afterwards, it really is so beautiful and completely heartbreaking.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Where have all the flowers gone?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?

words and music by Pete Seeger

Bodie California 'Ghost Town' Photograph by Masja Stolk 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Civil War

I have long been fascinated by the beautiful and terrible images created in the American Civil war, one of my favourite websites has a stunning collection of Civil War photographs.

April 1865. "Cold Harbor, Virginia. Collecting remains of dead on the battlefield after the war." Memento mori. Wet plate by John Reekie.

September 1862. "Antietam, Maryland. Confederate dead by a fence on the Hagerstown road." The first major battle of the Civil War on Union territory. Wet plate glass negative.

"1865. Charleston, South Carolina. Vendue Range looking east from near the corner of East Bay Street." Aftermath of the Great Fire of 1861 and bombardment by the Federal Navy. Wet plate glass negative

August 1863. Bealeton, Va. "Capt. Henry Page, assistant quartermaster, at Army of Potomac headquarters with horse." Wet plate glass negative.

He Sleeps Where He Fell 1864 Dead Confederate soldier near Mrs. Alsop's house." Wet-plate glass negative by Timothy H. O'Sullivan. Photos from Grant's Wilderness Campaign, May-June 1864.

1865. "City Point, Virginia. Brig. Gen. John A. Rawlins, wife and child at Grant's headquarters." Wet plate glass negative, photographer unknown.

July 1863. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. "John L. Burns, the 'old hero of Gettysburg,' with gun and crutches." Burns, born ca. 1793, was a 70-year-old veteran of the War of 1812 when he was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg, having volunteered his services as a sharpshooter to the Federal Army. He died of pneumonia in 1872. Wet-plate glass negative by Timothy H. O'Sullivan. 

April 3, 1865. Petersburg, Virginia. "Dead Confederate soldier in trenches of Fort Mahone." Wet plate glass negative, right half of stereo pair, by Thomas C. Roche. Civil War glass negative collection, Library of Congress.

These amazing images make me think of this Beautiful song 'Hills of Shiloh' sung here by Bud and Travis

Be sure to check out for so many more amazing images.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

I will be back!

I feel I've been neglecting this blog lately, I've recently started a new job and my modelling is going from strength to strength, but I have plenty of things to post here over the next few months.

I love these collage images by French Poet and Screenwriter Jacques Prevert, I love them, especially the first one.

                                                                           La Lune