The Stone Angel Dreams of Headstones

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In January 2002 the NZ Listener published my photographic essay, “Drury Lane: a Journey down Great South Road”. The essay was an exploration of parks and reserves along Auckland’s Great South Road, beginning in Newmarket and ending in Drury. While walking around Drury Cemetery, among the fifty-odd graves, I came across William Blake’s headstone. Not the poet William Blake, who never undertook the long sea voyage to New Zealand, but an interesting discovery nonetheless. Nine years later I revisited William Blake’s grave to film the opening and closing images of The Stone Angel Dreams of Headstones. I decided to compose a brief, poetic film using words found on headstones. The vocabulary of grave sites is a limited one, and I visited two larger cemeteries – Symonds Street Cemetery and Waikaraka Cemetery – to collect enough words and textural images to complete the work. For the filming, each word had to stand on its own and be legible, which meant not covered in lichen or worn away by time. In composing the text, I wanted to move away from the biblical tone of the inscriptions and enter a more open and mysterious space.

Credits: 

Director: Richard von Sturmer Music: Brian Eno