Doors of the UK – Durham Part 1

The medieval city centre of Durham has enough interesting doors to warrant its own series of door images.

Durham Cathedral is situated in the heart of the City of Durham, and it is a pilgrimage destination for thousands of visitors to north-east England, many who come to visit the shrine of St. Cuthbert. The cathedral started construction in 1093, during the early years of the Norman conquest. The Bishops of Durham were known as prince-bishops, which meant that they had civil authorities in addition to their ecclesiastical role. This included the right to levy taxes and duties, administer their own laws, and raise their own armies. There was no division of authority between the church and the state in this region until Henry VIII became king and diminished the power of the bishops.

Durham Cathedral was built in the Romanesque style and still retains many of these features. These architectural features include the use of semi-circular arches and chevron decoration of the stonework, both of which can be seen in these first two images. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside the cathedral, so you will have to make a personal visit to see what lies behind these grand doors.

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Durham Cathedral side entrance
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Durham Cathedral main entrance

The cathedral and much of the surrounding area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This includes Durham Castle and Durham University. Theological teaching began in Durham during the reign of Henry VIII, and the University of Durham was officially recognized as a university in 1832 – the third oldest in England after Oxford and Cambridge.

There are several doors that face onto the Palace green, located between the cathedral and the castle, some of which are shown in the following images. These are my contributions to this week’s Thursday Doors, hosted by Norm Frampton. See the links on Norm’s blog site for other door contributors.

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Durham University Library
d32-elevenses cw
elevenses outside the library
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the bishop’s library
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mystery door

Doors Open Toronto – Part 1

After a hiatus of several weeks, I am back to blogging on doors. My previous posts on doors have used images taken from my travels in other countries. This time, I thought it would be a good idea to keep closer to home in Toronto. I have only lived in Toronto for the past three years, so there is still much for me to discover in this city.

A perfect opportunity presented itself with the 18th annual Doors Open Toronto event, hosted by the City of Toronto. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, there were 150 buildings open for public viewing across the City on the May 27-28 weekend.

The curatorial theme – Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture – was intended to highlight the evolution of Canadian architecture. I used this opportunity to focus on several of the older buildings in downtown Toronto, and discover some of their features.

In keeping with Norm’s Thursday Doors blog theme, I have focused on the doors at some places of worship in Part 1.

St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church was built in the 1890’s and was originally named Holy Blossom Temple. It served as a synagogue for the first 40 years, before it was acquired by the Parish of St. George. The church is a good example of Byzantine religious architecture.

The tympanum (the decorative half-circle space over the entrance) originally had Hebraic lettering. A mosaic of St. George and the dragon was incorporated after the building became a Greek Orthodox church.

There are many variations on the myth of St. George. Many of these myths – involving St. George and the slaying of a dragon – evolved in medieval times. St. George, with the white shield and the red cross, representing good, and the dragon representing evil. Earlier stories of St. George still had something to do with Christianity, but nothing to do with dragons.

The church doors were open for viewing of the interior, but interior photos were not permitted; however, they did have a book of photos available for sale.

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St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

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Doors open at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica was built in the 1840’s and preceded Canada’s confederation. During this decade, there was an influx of Irish emigrants to Toronto, escaping the Great Famine, and contributing to a doubling of the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Toronto. The church was designed in the gothic style and was just recently refurbished. The Archdiocese of Toronto is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica

St. Michael’s Choir School originally opened in a single room in the diocesan office building next to the basilica in 1937. It reopened in a new location across the street in 1950. Although it is a newer building, the front door reflects some of the gothic elements of the past.

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St. Michael’s Choir School

The Cathedral Church of St. James was opened a few years later in 1853, and it is also an example of Gothic Revival architecture. The main entrance is quite impressive, while the side door is  still quite an elaborate mini-version of the front entry.

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Doors open at the Cathedral Church of St. James
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Side entry to the Cathedral Church of St. James

The Church of the Holy Trinity is tucked away on one side of the Eaton Centre, which was forced to be built around the existing church. The church was opened in 1847 and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity was associated with the “Catholic Revival” in the Church of England, which implied a return to Medieval art and a renewed sense of social responsibility.

The church congregation has been a lead in fostering social diversity in Toronto, and is considered to be a home for the LGBTQ community.

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The Church of the Holy Trinity

First Evangelical Lutheran Church was not on the Doors Open Toronto list of buildings, so the doors were not open. I wonder what is behind the green doors?

“There’s an old piano
And they play it hot behind the green door
Don’t know what they’re doing
But they laugh a lot behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out
What’s behind the green door”

Lyrics from The Green Door, Jim Lowe, 1956

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First Evangelical Lutheran Church

 

Monochrome Arches – Series 2

This second series of monochromes that continues with the theme of arches includes three more religious buildings.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London continues to be a significant edifice in the city. This cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, has operated for over 300 years. This building survived the London Blitz of 1940-41, and good town planning has kept the cathedral and its magnificent dome as a visible landmark during the reconstruction of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Fountains Abbey is located in North Yorkshire. It operated as a Cistercian monastery for over 400 years, until the mid 1500’s, when it was ordered to be dismantled as part of King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. The abbey and the surrounding Studley Royal Park are a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

The rest stop on the Camino is located in northern Spain. I can’t recall which building this is.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England
fountains abbey
Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire, England
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rest stop on the Camino, northern Spain

 

Darker Tones

I have recently been experimenting with darker tones in black and white photographs. Using images that were shot in broad daylight, I have been processing them with masks and gradients to darken parts of the image. These three images are examples from this processing.

The Rock of Cashel is a popular tourist attraction in Ireland. The proximity of gravestones and the cloudy sky add to the sinister and moody look of the image.

The RC Harris Water Treatment Plant is located in the Beaches area of east Toronto. It is a majestic art deco building that looks much more impressive than its purpose – to process domestic drinking water from nearby Lake Ontario. Water purification is a basic human need, so, perhaps, the “darker” treatment is not in keeping with its altruistic public health goals.

The exterior fire escape is attached to an office building in Victoria. External fire escapes are much more prevalent in other cities, but this is a good example of a simple geometric facade with the fire escape and its shadow dominating one end of the building. Applying a gradient adds some interest to an otherwise monochromatic wall.

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The Rock of Cashel
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water treatment plant
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fire escape

Artistic Prints

These three photographic images were processed using different techniques.

Lanyon Quoit in Cornwall was photographed on a foggy winter morning. I tried to maintain the foggy atmosphere, while adding a hint of frost on the ground.

St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tree of Life were processed with various artistic filters in Photoshop.

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Lanyon Quoit, Cornwall
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St. Paul’s Cathedral, London
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the Tree of Life

Monochrome Arches – Series 1

Black and white photography has always interested me, ever since my darkroom days. In the digital world, it is easy to get caught up in colours and vibrance and saturation. By returning to black and white images, tonality and gradients become more important.

The framing of an image has always been important to me. In this series, each image is framed by an arch and/or contains a series of arches. The archway leads you into the image, to discover what lies beyond the frame. From an architectural perspective, it is also interesting to study the differences among the styles of arches – be they gothic, romanesque or barrel vaults.

jerpoint abbey
Jerpoint Abbey, Ireland
Bayeux cathedral
Bayeux Cathedral, France
santa maria de eunate chapel
Santa Maria de Eunate Chapel in northern Spain
shadows of the abbey
In the shadows of Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland

 

 

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Foyer of the Tate Gallery, London, England
Arles coliseum
View of the Coliseum, Arles, France
view from the coliseum
View from the Arles Coliseum
bastion square
Walkway to Bastion Square, Victoria, BC
catedral de santiago de compostela
Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, Spain