Reimagining Gothic Landscapes: Creative Photo Project

Reimagining Gothic Landscapes

By: The Old Goths (Kathleen Hudson, Lauren Nixon, Mary Going)

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Exploring Castleton was a fascinating experience because we as Gothic students and as contemporary people reflected our own perceptions and interpretations of what ‘Gothic’ is onto the landscape. We were aware of concepts of sublimity and isolation as we looked over the Castleton landscape (especially as it started to drizzle). Some of us personally felt an almost universal connection to such ideas as articulated in Ann Radcliffe’s classic descriptions of sublime landscapes.

On the other hand, once we got into the castle ruin we started playing around a lot more, experiencing the area as a tourist attraction and as a space for the creative evaluation of history. We also starting building more contemporary Gothic narratives – as we set up shots and played with angles and lighting in our photos it was almost as if we were directing a contemporary horror film.  We were conscious of the ‘creepy’ or ‘uncanny’ possibilities in the images we captured, and joked that we looked ‘possessed’ or ghost-like in certain photos.

In actively engaging with the Gothic space we were able to connect with established Gothic tropes and modes of emotional expression.  We were also able to place ourselves in a Gothic context built through our own experiences and knowledge of both traditional and contemporary Gothic works.

Reimagining Gothic Landscapes

By: The Newfound Goth (Danny Southward)

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[Each of this is a snapshot, not a coherent narrative, mostly, so just pluck and pick whichever bare bones and poor form you think will best serve. D]

Gravitating towards graveyards, climbing ruined castles, baffling onlookers with bonnets, and capturing all with camera and a clinical Gothicist’s eye

We strode into Blackwell’s and found that perfect niche instantly.  We settled in, and took photos of the barbarous Goths in their natural habitat; buried between pages of the grotesque and the perverse, and loving every damned minute.

Photos taken tongue-in-cheek, with irony but also with sincerity, and with happiness.

Goths on Tour!A car journey haunted by tales of the past.  Every lake was primed to turn into a sublime seascape in an instant; every village was a cult waiting to strike when we were fully within its heart; every mile passed, was a mile surpassed without that dreaded moment of the car engine failing, abandoning us in the middle of an unknown and treacherous path.

The castle still drew us, drew them, drew everyone, to its core.  Though the hill was crippling, the climb a series of short bursts and long breaths, we all wanted to get to the summit.  Not just for the vista, that pastoral picture which placed you atop a tiny point survey the vast landscape before you – but for the castle.  The castle!

Bare stone and wrought metal, but what it inspired was a sudden flash of phrases, moments, and Gothic adventures.

The Castle was a windy climb to a space where the past refused to be quiet.  Eroded stone spoke of eons passed: time would pass, but the stone would remain, although chipped away by the harsh seasons.  The village below changed, the visitors sifted through the landscape like raindrops, but the stones always remained.

It was wonderful to watch those scenes long-kept in books rekindled and flickering from behind the Goth’s eyes. They stared at the ruins and saw these moments carved out in front of them.

But it was joy and excitement – here could be the spot where the giant helmet falls, and crushed the heir of Otranto; here, beneath these stones, a trapdoor could await to lead them to an endless maze of secret passages; here the body buried alive; here the cult revealed.

They looked at the stone and saw something which kindled smiles.  Blasted heaths.Secret passageways.Crumbling masonry ready to crush anything in its path.Echoes of the past that spoke of violence.  And they smiled, and they laughed.  What I really believe is, they belonged.

The day suitably cast grey shadows over the walls, and I saw those Goths around me smile, replaying scenes from across the Gothic with each new turn, each new nook and crevice.

The wind stilled itself suddenly, and an eerie isolation crept across the courtyard.  A tree, with withered branches, called to me, to my eyes, which refused to remove their gaze from this spot.

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In the silence I saw the branches form into an exploded diagram of a nervous system, almost as if the tree were alive and breathing like us.  From here my mind supplied the rest.  A lord, killed in pursuit of his lover, was buried by the very woman he adored.  She in turn mourned for him, and placed this tree over the place where his body lay freshly buried, before she again resumed her flight from the dangers she now faced alone.

I turned, remarking this to the nearest Goth, who simply shrugged and smiled.  ‘You’ll be one of us, soon,’ she said, and walked off further into the ruins, waiting for me to follow.

I have been slowly absorbed into a group who find intrigue among monsters and corpses.  They want to visit graveyards.  They enjoy excursions to ruins.  They smile at horror, and laugh at terror.  Most importantly, they do so over cake.  And now, I suppose, so do I.

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All Photos were taken at or around Peveril Castle, Castleton, by Lauren Nixon, Danny Southward, Kathleen Hudson, Mary Going

Project manager: Lauren Nixon