Memento Mori – The making of a Zine – By George Griffin

The Industrial Revolution modified the world perpetually. The approaching of mechanised manufacturing was a shift from a primarily agricultural society to a technological one. London was the primary metropolis affected by this because the Industrial Revolution originated within the UK. As London grew it swallowed up nice swathes of the countryside, this put monumental pressure on metropolis companies because of overcrowding.

By the mid 18th century London was a metropolis of 750000. From 1801 to 1850, the town’s inhabitants doubled as factories on the town’s outskirts introduced new residents searching for work out of the countryside.

The inhabitants surge in London within the early 1800s and epidemics of typhus, cholera, smallpox, measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria left burial house in such brief provide that unlawful burials usually happened in shallow graves and generally quicklime was thrown over our bodies to assist them decompose faster! Church graveyards have been stuffed utterly with coffins stacked in 20-ft holes. Our bodies have been usually minimize into items to make manner for brand new arrivals. Church buildings have been alive with the stench of rotting corpses, giving rise to the phrase: “stinking wealthy”.

In 1825 George Frederick Carden visited Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery and noticed a chance to switch overcrowded, insanitary church graveyards with interesting suburban cemeteries catering for the prosperous center and higher courses. His first proposal in 1825 failed however a brand new committee established in 1830 gained extra monetary, political and public assist to fund the ‘Common Cemetery Firm’. In July 1832, the Act of Parliament establishing a ‘Common Cemetery Firm for the internment of the Lifeless within the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis’ gained Royal Assent.

Within the subsequent decade seven cemeteries have been established in a hoop round what was then the outskirts of London, Kensal Inexperienced (1833), West Norwood (1837), Highgate (West (1839)) Abney Park (1840), Brompton (1840), Nunhead (1840) and Tower Hamlets (1841) these have been to be privately owned and ultimately grew to become often called the Magnificent Seven.

I stay near one among these so-called magnificent seven cemeteries, particularly Nunhead, and throughout the early summer time of 2021 I began to search out out extra about it and take journeys over there to {photograph} it.

From the mid twentieth century the cemetery was deserted and through WWII the iron railing defending it have been eliminated to assist the warfare impact and this led to quite a lot of vandalism.

In 1975 Southwark council purchased it for £1, With the help of lottery funding within the late Nineteen Nineties, the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery (FONC) renovated the ruined chapel, restored the gates, partitions and railings, repaired 50 memorials, laid new paths and cleared a lot of the overgrown panorama – although intensive swathes of wilderness stay. The entire 52-acre web site is now a conservation space and grade II* historic park, and half is a nature reserve with a various number of natural world.

View up The Avenue from the North Gate in the direction of the Anglican Chapel

Over time the as soon as manicured lawns have been reclaimed by nature and timber are rising out of the graves and even truly rising round them.


Headstones being reclaimed by nature


Nature taking back

Headstones and graves being reclaimed by nature

Additionally it is unhappy to see that quite a lot of the tombstones have both succumbed to time or vandalism.


A few of the ruined and vandalised headstones

The primary go to I took alongside my Olympus OM10 loaded with Ilford HP5+ however for subsequent journeys I shot with Rollei Infrared 400, the thought being to shoot in IR however I rapidly quit on this concept because it was fairly darkish underneath the cover of timber and shutter speeds have been to sluggish to handhold, so I simply shot it as a standard black & white movie.

Very early on I knew I needed to indicate the melancholic facet of the cemetery with its overgrown vegetation together with the damaged and broken memorials, so this was the kind of photos I focused on.

As my assortment of photos grew I wasn’t actually positive what I used to be going to do with them however fortunately I noticed a thread on the Talk Photography forums inviting individuals to hitch a bunch mission the place all contributors make a zine and change with everybody else participating.

I’d by no means actually tried my hand at producing a correct zine however with the pictures I had and the story behind Nunhead cemetery, I believed I had one thing to work with.

The very first thing to determine was how one can put a zine collectively, I take a look at a number of the software program obtainable applications like InDesign and Affinity writer however the price was a bit prohibited particularly if I wasn’t going to see this by means of and this is likely to be my one and solely try at a zine.

Finally I discovered a free piece of software program known as Scribus, and though not the best program to work with I used to be quickly capable of begin placing collectively the define for the zine.

Subsequent up was deciding a reputation and one of the simplest ways to put out the pictures as there was a combination of panorama and portrait. The identify was fairly simple; Memento Mori, the Latin for “bear in mind you will need to die”, and as this was a Victorian cemetery the font for the quilt wanted to have a Gothic model.

Memento Mori

Cowl of the Zine

The sequencing was slightly bit tougher as I knew I additionally needed to have some textual content inside the pages but additionally I didn’t need to have numerous pages inside the zine. Speaking to the individuals inside the group the overall consensus was that it must be between 20 to twenty-eight pages.

Having shot 3 rolls of movie with only a few doubles of photos, this gave me a place to begin of round 100 photos. The primary cull put this right down to about 40 photos however nonetheless too many to suit inside the zine. Finally I bought it right down to 24 photos and this then gave me a zine of 28 pages.

For the general look I do know I needed a mourning vibe to it so went with black all through and a black border to every picture.

Landscape images

The best way I discovered to show panorama photos

As for the sequencing this roughly fell into place due to the best way the panorama photos have been positioned, two to every web page and 4 throughout the unfold. I’m unsure whether or not it was 100% appropriate however I used to be pleased with it and nobody else stated it seemed unsuitable.

The textual content was a mixture of a little bit of historical past in regards to the cemetery and the that means of a number of the memorials, because the Victorians had methods of commemorating their useless.

It was lastly time to ship it to the printers however earlier than doing this I bought a swatch of paper shares from them to resolve what could be the very best inventory for a canopy and likewise for the inside pages. Finally I went with a 250gsm gloss artwork with a delicate contact laminated cowl and 150gsm bond inners.

The printers I used have been Mixam as they appear to be the go to selection inside the movie neighborhood to have zines or books printed. Because it turned on the market would solely be eight of us collaborating within the the mission swap, so I might solely really want to order this quantity however the best way Mixam’s pricing construction works I might order twenty 5 for a similar quantity as eight, so it appeared extra smart to order twenty 5 after which determine what to do with the extras.

Ultimately I did handle to promote a number of, I additionally did a number of further swaps and despatched some to individuals who had beforehand despatched me zines.

Though capturing these photos by no means began out for me to make a zine, I did actually benefit from the strategy of placing it collectively and the enjoyment of seeing it in different individuals’s palms and getting suggestions on it.

Thanks for taking the time to learn this.

I could be discovered on Instagram and have a movie pictures podcast on Spotify

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