The Rat & Magpie

The Rat & Magpie 01 © Carl Milner 2012
The title ‘The Rat & Magpie’ may sound like a quaint ‘Old English’ pub but alas it’s what we had in our garden at the studio over lunchtime, a Rat and a Magpie treating us to a display of the old ‘Cat & Mouse’ each going hell for leather trying to kill each other, neither got the upper hand I’m glad to say, but the rat seemed to think it owned the garden after its encounter and stayed on the back lawn for the rest of the afternoon.

Halloween of Old

Creepy ‘100 Year Old’ Halloween Photography

Halloween of Old
Is this Michael Myers Grandmother?

These really creepy photographs are from artist/musician Ossian Brown‘s book Haunted Air and really provide quite an extraordinary glimpse into the traditions of our macabre Halloween festival from ages past. Some of these photographs are over 100 years old, dating back between 1875 and 1955.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I get quite a weird feeling looking at these, it must be the fact that you can’t see most of their eyes, just those black soulless voids… Spooky

Halloween of Old
I’m sure one of these grew up to be Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Halloween of Old
Call me CHUCKY
Halloween of Old
The Wizard of Oz Massacre

The History of Halloween

The roots of Halloween lie in the ancient pre–Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, a feast to mark the death of the old year and the birth of the new. It was believed that on this night the veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead grew thin and ruptured, allowing spirits to pass through and walk unseen but not unheard amongst men. The advent of Christianity saw the pagan festival subsumed in All Souls’ Day, when across Europe the dead were mourned and venerated. Children and the poor, often masked or in outlandish costume, wandered the night begging “soul cakes” in exchange for prayers, and fires burned to keep malevolent phantoms at bay. From Europe, the haunted tradition would quickly take root and flourish in the fertile soil of the New World. Feeding hungrily on fresh lore, consuming half–remembered tales of its own shadowy origins and rituals, Halloween was reborn in America. The pumpkin supplanted the carved turnip; costumes grew ever stranger, and celebrants both rural and urban seized gleefully on the festival’s intoxicating, lawless spirit. For one wild night, the dead stared into the faces of the living, and the living, ghoulishly masked and clad in tattered backwoods baroque, stared back.

Graffiti Factory

On my journey back to the office after a meeting in Elland recently, I spotted this ‘Local Traffic Only’ sign as I was about to pull onto the M62 motorway, so I decided to explore this village called Blackley for my lunch.

As a drove through the village I noticed a dilapidated old factory and decided to take a peek with the trusty camera. The factory in question was the Blackley Fire Clay Works, or ‘Wilkinson’s Brickworks of Blackley’. The place became locally known as ‘Wilkinsons of Elland’, which was started by Samuel Wilkinson in 1883 and his sons Fred and Arthur who later became managers. The chimney at the works was built-in 1894 and is quite a local landmark, sitting proud on top of the valley overlooking the vista of Elland, Halifax and beyond. In 1983 the brick company was taken over by Butterly Bricks but sadly the site closed in 1985. Although this historic site has had countless attempts for re-generation, the last was for a 162 home residential scheme, which considering the views from the site was surely a no-brainer for the commercial developer. Balfer Beatty where the last to use the site as a storage facility while working on the nearby M62 upgrade.

The factory now has a new and extremely frequent visitor in the form of ‘Urban Graffiti Artists’ who have totally transformed the entire site into their own visual playground. Not a single wall has got away from their Flame, MTN, Belton or Krylon spray paints of choice. The chimney tower was no exception…how they got where they did is a mystery, it reminded me of Marlon Shakespeare aka CHOPPER from the 2000AD comic, the urban ‘King Scrawler’ artist from Mega City One who challenged the authority by making his mark of a SMILEY face in just the same ambitious locations. You’ll see from my photography how rival scrawlers compete and sometimes over-paint others work…Quite a visual battlefield.

Equally as a place just for photography it’s just as captivating, and one I’ll be visiting again hopefully for a photo-shoot with a young up-and-coming bands promo stills.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Looks like Sara Rosso has set quite a tough WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme ‘Foreign‘ this week. I took this photo in an old abandoned brickwork factory which now has a new life as the urban playground for local Graffiti Artists plying their own visual style, which to the uninitiated can seem quite Foreign, take the picture in question… beautifully crafted in a visual language all of its own. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge  Foreign © Carl Milner 2012
I’ll visually explore this Graffiti Factory in-depth in my next post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Silhouette‘s mixed with stunning sunsets, a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme which is so dear to my heart in terms of photography, the reason being….I love taking photos of the Leeds skyline at sunset, I was quite spoilt for choice for this weeks Photo Challenge, so I’ve done another mosaic gallery… hope you like them 🙂