Friday, June 19, 2020

Concrete Cathedral

So, there I was, early morning, wide awake, an itchy trigger finger and some film to use.

I'm not sure about your city or town, but mine is pretty much deserted - even the seagulls have pissed off and gone inland, and seeing as we have a population of Cannibalistic Seagulls urged on by their gluttony for the Lost Kebab Meat generated by large urban conurbations, that really says something.

So what do you do when you're wide awake at 5 on a Summer's morn . . well, you go photographing!

The Curly Car Park (or Doughnut depending on your age) is actually know as Bell Street Car Park. 
It's a bog standard 1960's Concrete Brutalist piece which I actually rather like. 
My father-in-law's car was stolen from here back in the 1990's, and I have never parked here myself.

Fashinating Capitain, you'll be saying. 

Well, yes and you know what is even more interesting than that . . .  

Woosh woosh woosh, wot's that sound?

Ah, it's the Sheephouseticon whizzing you back to the early 19th Century, for in 1834 (on the same site) was built The New Howff.
Now The Old Howff (or actually just Howff these days) is a slightly world famous, dead interesting (no pun intended) medieval (and onwards) cemetery in Dundee . . 
However it became rather full of bods, so you know what The New Howff is?
Yep . . a New one. 
Or at least IT WAS until (as was typical of Dundee at the time) it was destroyed by the Council's Planning Department with the building of an inner ring road and then the Curly Car Park was planted on top in 1962.
Incredibly, approximately 10,000 souls were interred on this patch of land until they stopped selling plots in 1882. Despite that, actual burials went on until the 1930's.

I actually had no idea of this until I started researching when the Curly was built.
This City is stranger than you could imagine . . f'rinstance I have a proper pint glass etched with the logo of a Temperance hotel . . . as they say in certain parts . . go figure.
Whilst most of post-war Britain underwent this destruction of a 'dirty' past (sound familiar?) Dundee seemed to suffer disproportionately. 
Had the central chunk of architecture (effectively still most of a medieval City) survived, then it could have been like a small Northern York . . what a lovely concept.
The history is still there in places, but you really have to scratch and dig.

Anyway, on with the old and the new. 
First lets set the scene: 

The New Howff In 1885

The Bounds Of The New Howff Circa 2020

What I find remarkable is that the destruction has largely kept the shape of the Necropolis. 

It is sad though isn't it - it would have been lovely had it survived.

When the cemetery was dismantled the bones were reinterred apparently in a common grave in either the Eastern Cemetery or Balgay Cemetery - there seems to be some conjecture about this. However, I'm sure you can imagine that they were bound to have missed at least some. I've always felt there was a weird air to the place and this has just cemented it in situ.
As a photographer all I can say is that the light in there is truly beautiful, open and cathedral-like - if only Frederick Evans still lived, he could have turned the space into photographs of true beauty.

FILM #66/70
Ilford HP5 EI 200
1. 1/60th f4 ZIII
2. 1/15th f8 ZIII
3. 1/15th f8 ZIII
4. 1/30th f8 ZIII
5. 1/30th f8 ZIII
6. 1/30th f5.6 ZIII Accident
7. 1/30th f8 ZIII
8. 1/30th f8 ZIII
9. 1/30th f8 ZIII
10. 1/15th f11 ZIII Rested on ledge
11. 1/30th f8 ZIII
12. 1/30th f4 ZIII

Need a thread adapter for the 500 as the TTT doesn't fit!
Had to handhold the lot   - go back with the SWCM - the space is amazing!

The camera was a Hasselblad 500 C/M with a 60mm Distagon. Metering was my old Gossen Lunasix 3S and film was HP5 at EI 200.
It was developed in Pyrocat-HD for 18 minutes - 14 of those with gentle agitation of 4 inversions every minute and then 4 minutes standing time.
I took the Leica Table Top Tripod, but forgot that it only has a small screw and the Hasselblad has a large insert, so they're all handheld.
I am sure I can be forgiven any converging verticals because of this - it really wasn't that easy. 
Some extra stability was provided by the Optech Pro Strap I use - it has enough flex (being neoprene) so that you can push down on the camera at the same time as supporting it in the normal Hasselblad manner. This brings your neck into the equation too (it being where the strap is!). 
It's a technique I've used for years with the Rollei and mostly it sort of works.

I started at the bottom, went to the top then came back down, but I have resequenced the prints as it works better.
Oh and I asked permission of the security guard too!
Also, because of the nuttiness of our times, there are currently no cars parked there . . worra bonus!

Concrete Cathedral 1

Concrete Cathedral 2

Concrete Cathedral 3

Concrete Cathedral 4

Concrete Cathedral 5

Concrete Cathedral 6

Concrete Cathedral 7

I don't know about you, but I think the light is astonishing - it was around 5.30 and the sun had been up for around 40 minutes.
There was almost something cathedral-like about it, from deep shadow to bright sun and a slight morning mist caught on the floors, slanting Jacob's Ladders, wells of extreme darkness . . the whole lot really, but in car park form. 
I took the photos quite quickly - can't have taken much more than 40 minutes - and was home and packing my third cup of tea before the house was roused. 

And that's it.
Maybe you've got something Concrete and Brutalist near you - go and photograph it - it could be rewarding.

Oh and I nearly forgot to add that these are all straight scans off of the original prints, which were on Ilford MGRC at Grade 3 - they were straight prints with a little burning, but on the whole no faffing at all. 
I don't know why (well I do, because I bought a bulk 250 sheet box) but it seems to be becoming my regular go to paper these days; though I really should get my finger out and use some fibre-based stuff. This being said, you do get a really decent print off of MGRC and it is so damn quick to print and process . . . well.
I suppose that just points the finger that I'm a lazy sod . . .
I also need to mention that after years of not using it, I am now also using the timer that came with the DeVere - it is a wonderful old thing - a DeVere Electronic Timer. It is all Tan metal, Chicken Head Knobs and Bulk. 
Up till now I have been counting elephants, but, like all elephants they were becoming unruly and wandering . . . so . . . it is also hard to fit one on an interplanetary craft.

Sheephouse to Earth, over and out!