Most people think of a memorial as a sole-purpose ‘something’, there to do exactly what the shot-blast lettering says it’s there to do. A headstone, for example.
Headstones are self-absorbed, stand-alone symbols. They add nothing to their surrounding headstones, neither do they detract from them. They do not beautify the landscape; they may uglify it. They are contextualised only by their massed-ness in an area decommissioned and set aside for the burial of the dead.
A memorial doesn’t have to be such. It can be architectural, like the mausoleum at Castle Howard, above. It can take its place in what James Leedam likes to call ‘the vernacular landscape’, so it can be an obelisk, a shrine, a tree, a cairn. Or a bunch of flowers at the roadside.
We are not confined to just one memorial, either. We can, both, mark the spot where the dead person lies and also keep the memory alive at another location or in other ways, privately or publicly. When I was writing the GFG I came up with: “A memorial can also be a folly, a charitable trust, a web page, a campaign, a horse-race, a half-marathon or a drop-in centre.”
My list was far from exhaustive. For, as Pat McNally made me aware in his post the other day about the Memo Project, “Public memorials can take the form of libraries, concert halls, schools, endowments, and even airports and battleships.” He makes reference also to heroic equestrian statues which “interest pigeons more than people”, and to memorials to the many, not just the one: the Vietnam Memorial, the Holocaust Memorial.
Reading Pat’s post I wondered what we’d missed, what’s new, what’d be appropriate and what wouldn’t.
Veuve Cliquot champagne commemorates Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin very aptly. So the world of food and drink offers opportunities for memorialisation – though it’s unlikely that this could be appropriately accomplished by a new pasta sauce.
What else? What memorialisation opportunity can you think of? What have we missed? Think, think, think! Then hit the comments’ box below.