Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Taphophile Tragics #1 - The monumental mason


These four statues are from the Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery, on the north shore of Sydney. The graves upon which they have been erected were laid down between about 1900 and the end of World War I.

Nowadays, if a statue is required, it is chosen from a catalogue, and manufactured from a mould. The material poured into the mould is a mixture of powderised Carrara Marble mixed with a fibreglass resin, forming a bonded marble. This can then be processed to give the appearance of bronze, marble or stone. An even less expensive method is to use a fibre-reinforced white Gypsum material called 'hydrostone'.

However, going by the dates of these memorials, I suspect each statue here to have been hand-chiselled by a mason.


In Europe, cemeteries have a higher proportion of statues than they have here in Australia. Very few statues here are based on the life of the departed. They usually depict a religious scene or a view of a Greek or Roman god. Below is one statue based on the life of the deceased. It is in South Head General Cemetery in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse. Phil Garlick died in 1927. My guess is that this was hand-chiselled from a block of marble.


This post is my contribution to the Taphophile Tragics meme.

23 comments:

J Bar said...

The grave sites were so elaborate in those days.

Clytie said...

I very rarely see statuary at cemeteries here ... I'm not sure why. Maybe because I tend to hang out at cemeteries that are off the beaten path - small towns, etc.

Your picture of Phil Garlick got my curiosity and imagination in full gear! I wonder what "triumph" he had been about to achieve when his life was cut short ...

Joan Elizabeth said...

Those statues must cost of fortune to erect ... never really thought about it before but when you describe the process or some of them actually being had carved they are works of art.

Julie said...

Yes, the cost of 'death' can be astonishing. Maybe statues were cheaper in 'the olden days', but wages were lower.

NixBlog said...

Quite remarkable monuments, but people will do extraordinary things to mark the spot they have buried a loved one. We have a historic cemetery about 600 m away from our house. I must get my camera and go visit it!

Julie said...

Oo ... yes, please Nick. Go do that, if you would. Which cemetery is it? If it is Sandringham ... have I got a jobbie for YOU!!

Julie said...

No no ... not Sandringham .. but Springvale ... Botanical Cemetery.

NixBlog said...

The one I mean is the old Northcote Cemetery (rather plain) and also the Old Central Melbourne cemetery, which is quite sumptuous with lots of statues.
I also have in my archives several other cemetery photos form all over the world, so I'll go archive hunting...

freefalling said...

Wow - I've never seen such fancy grave markers!
I wonder how long they would take to chisel.

Look - here's Phil in the flesh (well, in a black and white photo).
http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemLarge.aspx?itemID=37263
That's a sexy looking moustache he is sporting and I love his friend's hat!

freefalling said...

Geez - looking in Trove - there were LOTS of fatalities at Maroubra Raceway.

freefalling said...

And....
I saw another photo of Garlick's monument from the front and the steering wheel is engulfed in flames!!
(That's a little gruesome).

Julie said...

I must go and get some more of Garlick and his flames. Did not notce them on my first visit. However, I have followed your link but it said it was invalid but I got another photo of him in his car being handed a cup. One of the guys handing it to him looked to be a sandwich short of a picnic!

But I found a description of his funeral, which ran through all the chief mourners: brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. But not one mention of the poor grieving Nellie ...

Kay L. Davies said...

Amazing, the things people have done for their loved ones. I'm glad no one plans to do any such thing for me.

diane b said...

The story of Phil Garlick is interesting. Would love to see how the car in flames was carved.

freefalling said...

What about this link?
Does it work?
http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=37263

and here for flames
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25366251@N02/2895014554

Julie said...

Letty: the first one, no. The second one, yes. And the second one led me to a Flickr set called 'Sydney Cemeteries'. I will add it to my list of links.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Brilliant start to your new theme Julie. You always find out the most interesting things on your blog, not that I'd even consider a statue or sculpture but the thought of it being made from fiberglass resin is pretty naff no matter how you try to disguise it!!

Peter said...

Wow, the last one is a beaut! Is that a dapper mustache?

Gemma Wiseman said...

Poignant poses in each of these statues! Only the last one still has a horizontal gaze, still intent on life itself!

Gemma Wiseman said...

Back again Julie - Re Your question on my post - The blue car is actually a grave! Children's toys and flowers are in the car! There is even one grave that looks like a cot. I'll add this to my post!

biebkriebels said...

Thank you for starting your theme blog. At first I hesitated a little, because I always feel a bit uneasy at a cemetery I have never been. I feel myself a bit an intruder at a place where I have no relatives resting and just looking for curiosity. But I see that more people do have the same interest so I decided to join.
Greetings, Marianne

Dina said...

This is so interesting how statues are made these days.
I'll be joining your graveyard group soon.

Julie said...

Thank you so much, Dina.