Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cemeteries

It all started today with a friend providing me a link to customs surrounding the Jewish grave, called unveiling. It doesn't differ a lot from other religions whose rites around life and death follow similar paths. But it started a day of discovery in cemeteries.

I went out this afternoon and we had to make a stop at a friends house to look at a lawnmower that wouldn't work. So while my husband looked at that, I wandered into the churchyard further down the road. St. Nicholas church is located in Torbay and overlooks the bay surrounded by cliffs. At the edge of the churchyard is a cemetery. I walked down the steep path to get closer to the water and something caught my eye. A grave, freshly dug, with a pile of earth and stones next to it and in the grave a pine box. There was no one around, not a soul and I couldn't figure out why a grave would be left open. It was as if it had been abandoned mid-funeral ceremony.

One thought did cross my mind and I'm hoping it is the right one as, out of curiousity, I stopped by the churchyard on the way home and the grave was still there, casket in it, untouched and still no one around.

There is a national program created and performed by Newfoundland actors called Hatching, Matching and Dispatching.

In outport Newfoundland, it is often left to one enterprising family to literally taxi the residents of the town from cradle to grave—offering wedding, funeral and ambulance services all under the same roof. Hatching, Matching & Dispatching is a new comedy about one such family—the Fureys.

Laced with Newfoundland’s singular black humour Hatching, Matching & Dispatching follows the adventures of the Furey family and their daily dealings with the lovesick, the plain sick, the old, the infirm, the newborn, the automotively challenged, the bereaved, the heartbroken, the dead and the dead drunk.

The ensemble cast includes Mary Walsh (Mambo Italiano, This Hour Has 22 Minutes) as the family matriarch, along with Mark McKinney (Saddest Music In The World, Kids inthe Hall), Shaun Majumder (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Cedric The Entertainer), Rick Boland (The Divine Ryans), Susan Kent (Violet) and Sherry White (The Bread Maker).


Looking at some of the photos on the CBC site, it looks very similar to what I saw there and I'm hoping it was a leftover 'prop' for one of the shows as Hatching, Matching and Dispatching is filmed in Torbay and Petty Harbour. If not, someone may have a little explaining to do as to why the gravesite was left open...

Then on the Anglican Cemetery Forest Road in St. John's. This cemetery is one of the older ones in the city and has spread out of the years. Forest Road Cemetery had burials beginning in 1839 or 1849 and the older section has the ambience created by time in such a place. The trees tower over the graves which are close together and segmented by paths which tree roots compete with for space.

The headstones and markers are scarely visible in some, the letters worn away by over 100 years of rain, and snow and sleet pounding on them. Others have succumbed to the effects of frost and thaw and have splintered and cracked, toppling the stone pillars or crosses into the grass. The fragmented sunlight coming through the trees adds to the scene and always fascinates me. A number of my relatives are buried there, including my maternal grandmother and a number of her sisters - my great aunts.

I have visited cemeteries for years,exploring the older ones, especially in England, where Highgate Cemetery was my favourite. The age and architecture of momuments to people are an endless source of inspiration for drawing and for thought.

Finally, to the drawing update for today. If you've reaching this far, you've the patience of Job. This is an update of Horus, the sweet little grey tabby in Mallika's blog Under the Shade. I have deepened more of the face and started on the coat of the body. I'm still having a challenge with his eyes in achieving that luminous quality that I'm looking for. I'll work on those a little more and hopefully have the piece finished within the next couple of days.

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2 comments:

Mallika said...

I've always found cemeteries to be somewhat fascinating, disturbing places -- perhaps it's all about the mystery and finality of death? The Chinese cemetery where my paternal grandfather was laid to rest isn't grandiose, but every year when we took part in the traditional Chinese rite of cheng-meng (paying our respects to deceased relatives and ancestors) it's always somehow peaceful, even if the location is tinged with sadness.

And wow, the sketch of Horus is really coming along. What do you usually use when you do sketches/drawings like this? Colored pencils?

Jeanette Jobson said...

Yes, there is something eerie and mysterious about cemeteries, They make you want to walk softly and whisper as if not to disturb people there.

This drawing is done with derwent drawing pencils. They are a cross between coloured pencils and pastels. A soft creamy pencil in muted, earth colours.