John Povlitz

All Hallow’s Eve: The Wary Caretaker

Senior Project April 2014


The time is around 12th century Ireland, on the night of All Hallow’s Eve.  On this dark, cold night, under a full moon’s light, the cemetery has become restless with the spirits of those who wander aimlessly back into the world of the living. Amidst the graves, by the ruins of an old Celtic tomb, on top of a cross a poor soul sits and looms.  Chilled to his bones from fear and fright, he holds up his lantern that shines nil light.  It was the lowly caretaker who once walked these lands – loyal to his work from the dirt on his hands.  He watches this tomb, so cold and sheer, he wonders why he’s here only one night each year. Watches he does for spirits to come out, but alas, there seems to be no one about.  The plaque with the family name was poor and unkempt, leaving the knowledge of who’s buried there exempt.  He continues to sit, all wary and alone, forever not knowing that this tomb is his own.  From dusk ‘til dawn this night each year, he dwells alone in loneliness and fear.  A time will come when he learns the truth, that he is now dead and must accept his sooth.  For now he will sit on top of that cross, the caretaker he was, where his soul is now lost…

As a child growing up, Halloween was always my favorite time of the year. I would always be told scary ghost stories of spooks, ghosts and goblins – along with a wide variety of old horror films of the mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.  Back in those days, when I went out trick or treating, the houses were decorated with webs, real carved pumpkins, tombstones, and ghosts – everything that suggested that the yard/house was haunted. It had an eerie feeling, and I loved it.  As the years went on, while I was growing up, I began to take great interest in where the holiday originated from.  Where/when did it start? What did it involve? What were the stories and traditions of the holiday? What would it have looked like back then in comparison to what I learned as a child? Through my work, I would like to share with others the original traditions and stories of Halloween as well as give people a better understanding of how in-depth the holiday actually is by portraying the symbolism and traditionalism of the objects in question and how are they related to Halloween: why a turnip lantern? Why Celtic architecture and the symbolism of the carvings? How does the scene tell the story of the wary caretaker…

Because this scene revolves around 12th century architecture, I wanted to demonstrate the use of certain materials and methods to simulate the effects of aging through weathering and eroding.  Using pink/blue insulation foam as the templates, combined with the use of a wood burning tool (hot knife) for the carving, varied grits of sandpaper for the sanding of the edges, and a heat gun for texturing, allowed me to recreate the weathering effects of old sandstone which was choice for building in Ireland during those times.  Since this scene is also to portray a sense of Symbolism and Traditionalism of All Hallow’s Eve, I’ve incorporated some of the more eerie yet natural forms of weathering along with some of the well-known symbols related to the holiday itself to give the viewer a good feeling of what Halloween is about and how it ties in with the story being portrayed in the scene.

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