Old Burial Hill Original
This original painting is painted on 11" x 14" Arches cold press watercolor paper, and the painting is 9" x 12". Varnished for protection. This piece is not framed.
Created for the final Light Grey Art Lab exhibition The End is Nigh.
Established in 1638, Old Burial Hill in Marblehead, Massachusetts is one of the oldest burial sites in New England. This particular graveyard features incredibly elaborate gravestones that date back as early as the seventeenth century. The most “famous” gravestones are found here, each stone is a true treasure.
Puritan settlers were well known for their beautiful stone carvings as well as the introduction of epitaphs onto these stones. Old Burial Hill features mostly dark, blue-gray slate gravestones, which were tougher to carve into than marble. In my painting “Old Burial Hill” I was inspired by a smaller stone I spotted on a trip to Salem in 2019. This particular little stone’s tympanum (otherwise known as lunette), features a common and popular image, the winged death’s head. Old Burial Hill has dozens of ornamentally carved stones such as Susanna Jayne, who has a stone that famously presents bats, an ouroboros, skeleton, and more!
The stone I chose to represent belonged to Joseph Reddan, who unfortunately passed away at the young age of ten months old. It was quite a small stone, which is normal amongst family plots. There isn't much information about the Reddan family, but young Joseph’s stone spoke to me as it wasn’t as elaborate as the other stones found in this burial site. These stones are often overlooked, and not as appreciated.
Taking care of these stones, and learning about their histories is just as important as learning about the history of our country. Death rituals, death culture, and death is embedded in each of our lives. Learning about how those were celebrated in the past, helps us come to terms with our feelings towards death today. Each stone from the seventeenth and eighteenth century tells a story. It’s up to us to listen and learn from them.