Marja-Leena Rathje
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ancient doors



I've been off on a tangent today starting with reading blogs, as often happens. I'd been visiting my friend Mouse where curiousity sent me exploring the site of a commenter. Her photos of ancient doors in Provence are so beautiful and compelling that I began to wonder whether I had taken anything similar in my relatively limited travels.

I pulled out our Italy 1993 photo album (pre-digital days!) and got lost in there for a while. I found numerous images of arches, which I love, and ornate doors in grand cathedrals such as in Florence. But really none are of very old doors in homes, except for a glimpse of the ones in a beautiful old stone house in the Appennines. Below is my favourite one, a bricked-in door in a wall (not a home) by the Etruscan castle in San Severa. It was used it in my Meta-morphosis VI prints.


I often wonder why I have this love for the very old and weathered, yet I would not tolerate our home looking like that. I know it is partly about the setting for we live in a very young part of North America. If we let our house get this rundown, our neighbours would have it condemned! But there are a few historic sites even here, such as the old Britannia shipyards in Steveston, where I found some locked doors.

Doors are so everyday, yet they can have a mystery, even hold hidden fears in dreams and tales. When they are weathered and ancient, their history calls out. Who lived here? What stories happened behind these doors?

Marja-Leena | 18/11/2012 | 16 comments
themes: History, Meta-morphosis, Photoworks, Textures


I too love doors. There are some wonderful books in the library with gorgeous door photos.
Sometimes it's nice to 'get lost' in something one enjoys.

Old and weathered speaks of experience and a long and interesting life. It applies to face as well as to walls and doors.

Dolores, nice to meet you! Oh, yes, 'getting lost' is something of a guilty pleasure of mine, when I know I have work to do. I justify it as inspiration for my art :-)

Joe, yes, indeed. Your mentioning the face reminds me of how in my early art school days I loved to draw faces of elderly people - so much more interesting than young ones.

A Greek blogger I used to follow who no longer publishes posted photos of doorways that were lovely.
I'm still looking at photos from Peru. There are some fascinating doorways and entryways there. Maybe I'll post them one of these times.

Ah yes, old doors and windows too....

I love old things, I have never lived comfortably in modern house with straight lines and uniformity, in fact, for some reason a website keeps sending me links to old houses for sales and they are, it must be said, 'quirky' in the extreme

There you have it, as far as cyberspace is concerned I am old and quirky. Perfect!

Hattie, Greece is another country with ancient homes so the doors there would be gorgeous, often blue against white walls, I imagine. I would love to see more of your photos from Peru, including doors.

Mouse, you are not old, but nicely quirky. You come from a very old country and continent and obviously love the ancient things, from prehistoric to more recent times, including old homes with interesting details like doors and windows. Here, homes were often not built to last, are quickly torn down and replaced with bigger and shinier, like next door to us.

My house is 1808 (or maybe older in one part), and that's old for the States. It certainly takes a lot of repair. There's a huge chimney base in the cellar that looks primordial... like something that grew!

I love old houses and these pictures. The bricks in that last one make me think of shriveled Indian corn.

Marly, yes, old houses do tend to need a lot of repair, and yours sounds much so, and rather interesting too. Romanticizing is one thing but reality another - not sure I'd be up for it anymore if I had to do the work unless I was rich and could hire others. (We spent years renovating this one.)

I agree! Something I love about the old part of Montreal is that when a building comes down, it often reveals bricked-in doors and windows on the side that used to be covered up. And some of these are high up on the walls. It always intrigues me, and I find myself stopping on the street to stare at these former portals where other people once entered or looked out.

Beth, that intrigues me very much too, though we have nothing as old as Montreal's here. The original village of Vancouver burned down in 1886 so really current history started after that, and sadly not many older structures remain even then. That's why I love Europe so much.

I stopped by yesterday and saw these lovely pictures but had to leave before I could comment. There truly is something marvelous about old brick and stonework and the doors and windows that pierce them. What's really nice about these pictures is seeing the mixture of stone with later brick repairs that seem almost as ancient.

I guess these things speak to our hearts of a deeper permanence. It's a comfort to know there was a time when people stayed in the same place over the course of centuries. Some of my favorite photos recently have been ones of villages in the south of France. Too bad we can't all live there.

Susan, yes, it's too bad though of course we can't all fit there. Your words about people staying 'in the same place over the course of centuries' made me feel wistful, that we'd left our home countries and broken that long chain. People move more than ever so those roots are shallow....

My roots are so shallow now I might drift away on the next errant breeze :-)

Susan, just hang to Canada's eastern shore now, please :-)

I call them ghost doors. And ghost windows. I love them. I imagine how they were used in the past and who wandered under them and behind them :)

Lovely pictures.


Wisewebwoman, ghost doors and windows - I like that! I imagine that you have many in your part of the country. Thanks!