Victorian mourning practices are famous for their dark beauty: elaborate mourning costumes, plumed horses drawing lacquered funerary carriages, and countless mourning ephemera housed in museums and private collections. However, one of the most enduring and culturally important aspects of Victorian mourning ritual was the creation of the garden cemetery.
These cemeteries were inspired by visions of Arcadia: “The tomb in the garden was a place where the living could weep moderate tears, recall the dead to mind, reflect, remember, and keep the departed ‘alive’ in some way in thought and spirit.” (Stevens Curl)
Removing places of grief from the putrefying churchyards in the heart of cities to the beautiful outlying gardens of the Victorian garden cemetery movement transformed the way Victorians interacted with their spaces of mourning.
This talk will be presented by Romany Reagan a final-year PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her thesis centres around the layers of meaning that coexist within a cemetery space. By way of an audio walking practice, artistic interpretations of outdoor archive, nonhuman networks, and mourning practices are explored in Abney Park cemetery in London. Areas of research encompass: psychogeography, mourning practices, ‘The Good Death’, anachronistic space, heterotopias, gothic sensibility, liminal spaces, the uncanny, and the Victorian ‘Cult of the Dead’. Her walk ‘Crossing Paths/Different Worlds in Abney Park Cemetery’ was published in Ways to Wander (Triarchy Press, 2015) Website:https://abneyrambles.com/ Twitter: @msromany; @abneyrambles
Photo credit:’Mount Auburn Cemetery’ by Thomas Chambers, mid-19th century