I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Geometry and Grief

There is a bluestone chapel at the Melbourne General Cemetery. I took this photograph that didn't come out so well (truly, just using a phone at the moment, but will organise better camera soon), but did better with closeups of a few details.

I'm starting to notice more features of the way the bluestones are put together. Sometimes they have little fringes carved into the edges of fancier buildings. This one also features the delicate interlace of spider web across stone. 

And I'm remembering to take photos of inscriptions and foundation stones.

I'm also coming to observe the little H pattern, and the way the squares and rectangles of bluestone are fitted in around the angles and curves of gothic style. And the way bluestone and slate are so often paired.  

And questions of scale are interesting too: as well as the balance of vertical and horizontal here. (I hope that by the time I write the book I will have a more articulate architectural vocabulary.) 

But then, looking for a better image of the chapel, my interest in geometry got deflected. 

First I notice that the Cemetery's website is practically, not historically oriented, and when you click under 'chapel' they make the point that there are no functioning chapels here.

And then I was caught by this beautiful picture, 

It heads up the "dealing with grief" page. Like their site on funeral etiquette, it is full of sensitive and thoughtful advice. No bluestone here (granite and marble are the funerary stones), but a lovely reminder that bright light and architecturally interesting images aren't a natural affective fit with grief. Is there a disjunct here? 

I sometimes think my affective bluestone history will be a differential one: as much about when and why bluestone isn't used; and about when and why bluestone doesn't carry affective charges.

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