Grave Flowers

I had the idea of photographing the flowers left in a cemetery and while looking for possible subjects I was struck by two things – those where the flowers had been left to wilt and wither – and those where artificial flowers had been left. When the artificial flowers were new the colours were quite garish, but those that had been there some time the colours had faded.

I deliberately cropped the images very tightly to concentrate attention on the flowers, but the text on the headstones provides context. Flowers, particularly when drooping or losing petals, are a typical motif of the transience of life, frequently used in Vanitas still life paintings, particularly in Dutch and Spanish art of the 17th century (Chilvers 2009). I think that the images present a form of vanitas, portraying the transient nature of things. The bright artificial flowers placed on a grave possibly signify a temporary defiance of mortality, but even these fade away over time.

Seen together they form a typology of images. Davis (2017) outlines four factors; subject, environment, process, and presentation/direction, that are used to rate consistency within the typologyand that “a high level of consistency within a number of these factors is required in order for a body of work to be classified as a typology” (ibid). I think that there is the possibility of continuing this series to produce many more of the images to meet these four factors.

I thought that these images could be an extension of my ‘A Little Less than Perfect’ series and that they serve as a motif for the evanescent nature of life both plant and animal.

The images are just ones taken on my phone on a dog walk as an idea, a concept for something that I might explore further when  I could spend more time on looking for and photographing suitable images (without also having to keep hold of the dog!) 


Higher resolution images can be seen in my Gallery



Chilvers, I. (2009) The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (4th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davis, P. (2017) Can the photographic typology be defined?. At: (Accessed 12/03/2020).