Monday, June 25, 2012

Ken Turner's Captivating Freak Show

A while back, I did a post on illustrator, animator and owner of Freak Show Studios, Ken Turner (here). I had stumbled upon his work serendipitously when a Google search for Tim Burton's, Dark Shadows, turned up some of Ken's fabulous caricatures of the cast.

Tim Concept Art and Character Models

Since then, I've been delving a tad further into Ken's portfolio of work, and I discovered a little gem in the form of a short stop motion animated film he made in 2007, called Tim, which is an homage to Tim Burton's brilliant short film, Vincent. Not only is Tim a treat for anyone with a love of the Burtonesque aesthetic but it is also a really poignant tale that will resonate with those of us who can relate to being something of a misfit. You can watch Tim below:

TiM (2007) from Ken Turner on Vimeo.

The World of Snowboy and Crow

Ken's latest offering is the first installment of a darkly charming animated series called The World of Snowboy and Crow. To view it and to see more of Ken's work visit the Ken Turner Blog.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Highgate Cemetery

With a burgeoning population, high mortality rate, and inadequate burial space, London faced a crisis in the early decades of the nineteenth century over what to do with its dead. Seven large, modern cemeteries were created in the countryside around England's capital that came to be known as "The Magnificent Seven". One of these cemeteries was Highgate, in north London. The first burial was on May 26, 1839.

Funeral and burial arrangements were often extravagant during the Victorian era. Queen Victoria's deep grief after the passing of her husband, Prince Albert, set the tone for the way her subjects mourned, at a time when death was an ever-present fact of domestic life. Deathbed vigils, adherence to strict mourning rituals, mourning dress, mourning jewellery, death masks, and postmortem photography were amongst the conventions employed to help them cope. They would also build elaborate tombs and mausoleums to honour the deceased, and cemeteries were landscaped so that families could visit with departed loved ones in a pleasant garden atmosphere.

Highgate Cemetery was much admired and became a fashionable place for burials. The London Cemetery Company that ran it became so profitable that the cemetery was extended to the other side of its Swain's Lane site, creating the East and West Cemeteries connected by an underground tunnel.

The largest funeral to take place at Highgate was that of Tom Sayers, a famous bare-knuckled prize-fighter. He had over ten thousand mourners, chief amongst them, his faithful dog, Lion.  Poignantly, the tomb of Tom Sayers is guarded by a stone statue of Lion (see photo above).

By the end of the nineteenth century the desire for extravagant funerals had waned, giving way to simpler burials. By 1975 the funds to maintain the cemetery had run out and the gates were closed. Later that same year, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust was set up. It acquired the freehold for both the East and West Cemeteries by 1981 and has since had responsibility for Highgate's maintenance.

There are many prominent figures buried at Highgate Cemetery, perhaps the most famous being Karl Marx. The cemetery also gained notoriety for an urban legend about a "Highgate Vampire" that purportedly haunted the site during the 1970s.

There have also been numerous fictional references to Highgate. In Bram Stoker's, Dracula, the Count's victim, Lucy Westenra, is buried in "Kingstead Cemetery", a fictionalized Highgate, where she preys on children as a vampire. Highgate is also acknowledged as the inspiration for the setting of Neil Gaiman's, The Graveyard Book.

The tombs, mausoleums and gravestones of this beautiful Gothic cemetery are nestled amongst a wild landscape of trees, shrubbery and flowers that have become home to birds, foxes and cats. Both sides of the cemetery are still used for burials, and tours are held to view the grounds of the older West side.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Delightfully Dark Finds

I suppose it's blatantly obvious by now that I can't get enough of anything Beetlejuice related, so how could I not love these cool prints of Lydia Deetz and a Sandworm by Mike Oncley, on Etsy.