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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Seventeen: Memories in Metal and Stone: How monuments, sculpture, and tombs express ideas. > Remembering Jane, Church of King Charles, Falmouth, England, 2004
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Remembering Jane, Church of King Charles, Falmouth, England, 2004
24-AUG-2004

Remembering Jane, Church of King Charles, Falmouth, England, 2004

This gravestone marks the last resting place of a woman named Jane in the small burying ground of Falmouth's Church of King Charles the Martyr. I moved close to the stone to abstract it, and intensify its sense of antiquity. Its rough texture shows us how the passage of time has taken its toll on the stone. I also cropped out much of the stone’s faded message, and tilted the stone in my frame to make it seem even more unstable and vulnerable. I hope this image conveys the point that after hundreds of years the memory of “Jane – the wife of…” still lingers in the consciousness of the town of Falmouth. Do you think it does? Let us know if this picture works, or doesn’t work for you. I’d be delighted to respond.

Canon PowerShot G5
1/320s f/4.0 at 7.2mm full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
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Phil Douglis24-Jun-2005 19:38
Thanks, Don, for your kind words. I am touched by your comment, and by your thoughts on my images.
Donald Verger06-Jun-2005 09:03
great image and compostion! voted, ps my pad yesterday was of my mom's headstone that my dad asked me to be responsible for making... i drove 600 miles one day to be sure i would like the stone, really like it, and yesterday my dad and a companion flew from floida to connecticut and back to visit my mom's gravesite for the first time... i used my camera as a way to connect with it all when i visited for the first time a few days before mothers day... i dont know how to do links butyou can see the image in my .....PAD and a gallery called... MOM... and you might enjoy ... my 40 favorite image s now... or favorites A, take care, i love and am impacted by your images! best, don
Phil Douglis27-Dec-2004 21:50
Thanks, Peter, for these thoughtful comments. You have indeed felt what I was trying to express as I pressed the shutter to make this photograph. I am delighted to see you break this image down into its expressive components. I was gratified to see you even go beyond my own assessment of the role of texture here. I thought the texture primarily expressed how time has taken its toll on the stone itself. You saw it as an expression of life itself. I am happy that it moved you so deeply. Such comments as yours are a great reward. Not only do you tell me that this image is doing what I want it to do, but you also tell me that it has gone beyond my intentions. Since my site is a teaching site, your comment helps me help others, as well. This was a very simple image with a potentially profound story to tell. You are among those who have the imagination to read the story in this gravestone, and you do it very well. Thank you, Peter, for this remarkable comment.
Guest 27-Dec-2004 05:28
Phil, please allow me to be the second person to sing praises about this wonderfull image. I find this photo to be very intimate and personal in a way that we all can relate to. Thankfully you didn't include her last name or the name of the husband, therefore this Jane can be seen as Jane Doe, a person that is uknown to us personally but at the same time someone we have heard of in the news, read in the book, we can relate to her glory, pain and feelings. We can also see Jane as someone who is very close to us, because she was a wife and probably a sister, daughter, mother or a loved one... someone each and everyone had at one point of time, someone who is missed terribly. The textures of the grave are also very important to me, my eyes can feel the rough surface of the 100 years old stone, as if my hands could feel the textures of my grandmother's palm, the stone has life written all over it, this stone represents a real life story for me. I am truly moved Phil.

I find that cemetaries are places full of emotions, and this image captures many of them perfectly in a very beautifull and descrete manner. I find myself strolling through the cemetaries quite often lately and discovered that trying to capture the emotions is very challenging, but gratifying when viewers express what they feel when viewing the image, and these feelings are similar to what I have felt when pressing the shutter.
Peter
Phil Douglis09-Oct-2004 04:55
Just when I was wondering if anyone would ever comment on this image, my own "critic-in-residence" has come to the rescue. I am obviously relieved that you like this one. And I am thrilled that you saw a meaning here that for me was not really planned but instinctual -- your interpretation, Celia, of the tilted perspective. I did it to convey a sense of vulnerability. At any time, this stone could crash to the ground and perhaps smash to pieces. Yet you saw the tilt as a measure of softness and energy, in memory of a living, breathing, person -- which I guess could also relate to vulnerability. What amazed me however, was your reference to the DIRECTION of the tilt, with the end of the name pointing up instead of down. I had never even considered the meaning of direction until you brought it up here.

You and I have been having a raging argument about just what expressive photography is and is not, over another one of my memorial images athttp://www.pbase.com/pnd1/image/33921473. Although over there you seem to question the very existence of expressive photography, in this glowing review you use such phrases and words as "pulled us into," "evoke," "sense," "ambiguity," "intimate," "establishing a personal and intimate relationship," as well as the word "creates," three times. Perhaps you and I are really not as far apart on that issue as it might seem. Your comments here make me feel that perhaps you believe that what I am teaching in these galleries is useful and valid, after all. In any event, I am delighted that this image has said so much to you, Celia. (l wonder if the context I provided in my explanation helped you read the meaning of this image so profoundly?)
Cecilia Lim 08-Oct-2004 14:30
I have no doubt been ripping some of your latest Europen images to shreds, but this, I love! I loved the fact that you've pulled us into this tombstone, among the many lifeless pieces of grey headstones there I would imagine, to show us that these stones were just not some meaningless grave markers. But a declaration of a very real person with a name and a life who once existed and who meant very much to someone. The macro approach you've taken is key in establishing this personal and intimate relationship between the viewer and the person who lies to rest there. By doing this, you could also show us the weathered details and texture of this tombstone, which evoke a sense of history and time that this person owns. By omitting most of the engraved words, you've also created a sense of mystery, gently prodding us to question who this woman was. We've stepped upclose to this "woman" yet you help us not to feel intrusive by not revealing everything that is stated there about her. This ambiguity, which seems to be a conscious effort on your part, help create some privacy out of respect for her family so that something is still left specially to them. The way you've tilted the image also creates softness and energy that a straight, full-frontal view would not have. And this too has a purpose - to create a sense that Jane was a living, breathing person. In addition, this very upward angle reinforces a happy, positive remembrance of her. Should you have tilted it the opposite way with her name pointing downwards, it would have created negativity, a sunken feeling and everything pessimistic normally associated with death. But you did not do so. Although Jane is long gone, what you've done here is honour her memory in the most intimate and uplifting way possible with photography. And this is only a piece of stone!!! And this my friend, is the very kind of stuff that makes you the damn excellent expressive photographer you deserve to be called!
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