A couple of days ago I went to Highgate Cemetery in search of the final resting place of Karl Marx – perhaps the most famous grave on site. I was lucky enough to get permission to take a few shots on my Z camera for personal non-profit use, but I decided since I was there that I would take the tour and have a walk around the local area.
The Realm Of The Dead – Highgate Cemetery is split into two parts – the Western side is more developed, with stone tombs and crypts such as the Egyptian Avenue (top) and the Circle Of Lebanon (middle). This is in contrast to the flatter wilderness of the Eastern side (bottom), but either which way, the place was overgrown and in disrepair – to some degree, even the graves had been forgotten and returned to the Earth. Creepy.
The cemetery is quite big – not the biggest one I’ve been in I think, but certainly the most ‘overcrowded’. No doubt, with all the family tombs and catacombs all around, I was indeed within the realm of the dead. It was like something out of Zelda. What I noticed quite early on though was the amount of angels there were situated about the place, and how they had come to symbolize death. These did of course have religious significance, and I thought back to my own TEOTA production and how my characterization of the angel had been the opposite of all that. However, I also noted that the idea of mortality was something that was largely omitted from the idea as it stands, and would perhaps add an extra layer of meaning in the narrative if I considered it in the script more.
I also chanced across several other graves – notably Anne Mahler, Alexander Litvinenko and Jeremy Beadle – the last of which was pretty much symbolic of my childhood. It was a sobering morning to say the least, one that certainly reminded you of the saying ‘memento mori’. The morning mist and the tumbling dead autumn leaves added to the rather weary atmosphere – not really making you fearful of your death, but more fearful of what you’re currently doing with your life.
This grave just caught my attention – it belonged to the man who originally invented the ‘zoo’. Apparently, he started his business with just a snake in a box, and went around showing people in pubs if they gave him a shilling or two. It later became a huge business – the lion atop the headstone was a real animal, apparently a very docile creature.
The Sleeping Angel – Just one of the many angelic monuments littered about the place. My perceptions of what an angel can be was influenced somewhat by the interpretations shown in this cemetery – all had some religious sentiment, but some were crying, some were flying, others… sleeping. Angels can represent many things, with all associated meaning changing with just a slight alteration to the character.