Six or seven years ago, I had a brainstorm to create a video that would introduce CemeteryTravel readers to the cemetery where I grew up, the one that taught me to love graveyards. I quickly realized that I couldn’t film it by myself. Unfortunately, my kid wasn’t interested in serving as my camera person.
Another brainstorm later, I decided to ask my friend, collaborator, and former director Brian Thomas if he would shoot the video for me. When we were in college, I had the honor of appearing in some of Brian’s student films and I knew he has a gift with a camera. I asked him to shoot me gardening in front of my grandparents’ headstone and touching the Youell tree stump. He came up with all the other moving shots in this video.
We shot the footage in 2014 and there the project languished. Every so often I would open iMovie and take a stab at assembling the bits, but my lack of editing skill made the work highly frustrating and very depressing. The gulf between what I wanted and what I could manage was crushing.
It took another brainstorm to finally get the job done. Earlier this year, I approached my friend John Palisano, who had published the first edition of Wish You Were Here and created an amazing book trailer for me. I asked John if he would edit the raw footage together for me.
After John said yes, his son Leo got interested in the project and put together this lovely video. Leo edited the footage together, added some of my photos where pieces were missing — and then animated them, and put up with my niggling comments of shortening this piece or that. He chose the stone-grain typeface for the title cards. He added the blue jays from Brian’s original videos as intro and outro sound. He made the the video of my dreams at last.
I was literally incapable of making this video without their help. Thank you so much, Brian, John, and Leo!
My dear friend Jeff is on a mission to travel to all the ends of the earth. Ten years ago, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and took a cruise down the Amazon. He sent me these photos from the cemetery along the way. With his permission, I share them with you.
From Jeff’s note:
First, a context photo, since I do not know much about this graveyard.
We stopped here to go for a swim on a sandbar on an island in the middle of the Rio Negro (the branch of the Amazon we were on). The water was warm and we just spent a few hours standing up to our necks in the water that was cooler than the air. If you look, you can see that people are drinking beer while they stand, with our residence floating in the background.
This graveyard is at the high point of this sand bar. On wet winters, I suspect that this graveyard would be under 1 meter of water. Typically, it seems to be right at the high water mark of the river. When we got there, the crosses had all been freshly repainted. The roller was still sitting there with paint on it. Talk about a graveyard with a view!
Loren again: Someday we’ll be able to travel again. In the meantime, you can check out Jeff’s other exotic adventures on Cemetery Travel:
You can see Jeff’s photos of his trip to Cuba here.
See his photos of the graveyards of Croatia and Bosnia here.
His pictures of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh are here.
I just discovered another photographer making art from cemeteries. He introduced himself with the email below and intrigued me enough to follow his link. I hope you will feel the same way.
I would like to share with you a new body of work called Life and Then – A Photographic Exploration of Cemeteries. I have been photographing cemeteries for some time now. I understand that not everyone is comfortable with the subject I have chosen, as I was not when I began the project about nine years ago. Over time, I started enjoying my visits to the cemeteries. It was interesting to learn how each culture, religion, or geographic areas treat their dead. These visits have put life in perspective for me. It was comforting to know with all the inequities in life, we all will die at the end. During my visits, I do not seek the graveyards of rich and famous; it was the ordinary people, and the stories that I imagined of them interested me the most. Art and life at cemeteries also made my photographic exploration more enjoyable.
At this junction in my never-ending cemetery project, I felt that it is time to share a selection of my images. The collection that I have chosen for my Life and Then portfolio centered on landscape and art at cemeteries. I hope you enjoy these photographs as much as I enjoyed being there to capture them.
View inside Barcelona’s Poblenou Cemetery. All photos by Loren Rhoads.
Cementiri de Poblenou
Avenida Icaria, s/n
08005 Barcelona, Spain Telephone: 934 841 999 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:http://www.cbsa.cat Founded: 1775 Number of Interments: uncertain, since the cemetery was destroyed and rebuilt on the same spot. Size: I can’t find the acreage anywhere, but it’s only an hour or two of exploration. Open: Daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Poblenou Cemetery dates to 1775, when it was the first modern cemetery in Europe to be built outside its city’s walls. The original cemetery was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1813. After the invasion, the graveyard was expanded and rebuilt by architect Antonio Ginesi. The Bishop of Barcelona re-consecrated it in April 1819.
Poblenou Cemetery is walking distance from Barcelona’s Yellow Line (Line Four) metro. Get off at Llacuna station and walk east on Carrer Ciutat de Granada four blocks toward the Mediterranean. The street dead-ends at the cemetery wall. Turn right and follow the wall around to the grand entrance. Good to know: there is no water for sale in the cemetery, but there is a corner store right outside the metro station. Make sure you have a small bill to make your purchases. They can’t change larger denominations.
Also called Cementiri de l’Este, Poblenou Cemetery is comprised of three sections. The first is a labyrinth of seven-story-high burial niches. That’s followed by a section filled with Neo-Gothic mausoleums and Gothic-style chapels built for Barcelona’s wealthiest families. The third section mixes niches, monuments, and common graves where the poor are buried.
The monuments include works by some of the most important sculptors and architects working in Barcelona in the 19th and 20th centuries. Plaques identify most of the significant works, so it’s possible to tour the cemetery by yourself. Pick up the free multilingual map from the cemetery office. While it doesn’t offer a lot of information beyond the names of the artists or architects responsible for the tombs you’ll visit, it will point you toward 30 breathtaking points of interest.
If you speak Spanish, the cemetery offers a free tour that covers about 100+ years of the history of the cemetery and the city it serves. The tour visits 30 tombs and lasts an hour and a half. It takes place the first and third Sundays of the month at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
The best-known grave monument in Poblenou marks the final resting place of textile manufacturer Josep Llaudet Soler. “El beso de la Muerte” (The Kiss of Death) was designed by Joan Fontbernat and carved by Jaume Barba in 1930. It is a larger-than-life marble of a young man slumped to his knees, being supported by a winged skeleton. Death bends over to touch her teeth to the youth’s brow. Make sure to walk all the way around the statue to appreciate all of its details.
Another lovely sculpture shows a winged angel raising the swooning soul of a maiden toward heaven. The sculpture, carved by Fabiesi, dates to 1880 and adorns the grave of Pere Bassegoda.
Also buried in Poblenou is “Santet” or Little Saint Francesc Canals I Ambros, who died in a fire at a neighbor’s home in 1899. The 22-year-old was selfless in life and is believed to have supernatural powers after death. People leave photos and flowers in the niches surrounding his grave.
Other famous Catalans are buried in Poblenou, including composer Josep Anselm Clave, politician Narcis Monturiol (who also invented a submarine), and film actress Mary Santpere.
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