Gothic Dreamscapes by Patrick Flanagan
The term “Goth” means many different things to different people, but one thing that most can agree on, is that at the heart of the subculture is an appreciation for the beauty in the darker aspects of life.
In his book Gothic Dreamscapes writer and photographer Patrick Flanagan taps into that very aspect of the subculture—sharing with the reader his very intimate contemplations on death, suffering, tragic love, and an attraction to the macabre. Flanagan’s artistic exploration, consisting of his own photos and poetry, takes the reader into a dark, intimate world, creating an eerie atmosphere of peace and contemplation.
Flanagan’s work comes from a deeply personal place. Even from a young age, he felt a connection to death and the macabre. As Flanagan explains, he started life as a premature baby “frail and weak,” and as he grew he gradually became blind in one eye. In grade school he faced further adversity—he was harassed by classmates and due to his issues with depth perception, his 9th grade teacher told him that he would never become an artist. And even though Flanagan’s hardships lead to a suicide attempt at one point, he fortunately was able to overcome the negativity that came from those around him, as he eventually found a means of solace and self-expression through his artwork.
Flanagan has been writing poetry since the age of six, but it wasn’t until he was twenty years old that he first purchased a camera and began pursuing photography. He developed his skills through his own hands-on experience and experimentation, as opposed to consulting “how-to” books or seeking instruction. He didn’t seek to model himself after any specific photographers or follow any pre-established methods, and simply describes his photography as “original and unlike anyone else’s,” although he does cite Eric Nietsche as one of his influences.
Although Flanagan has been honing his poetic and photographic skills for an extended amount of time—over 25 years, he explains—it wasn’t until just a few years back that anyone actually had a chance to view his work.
“I was never interested in showing any of it. It was a total fluke how it happened. When the head of an art gallery saw some of my photography that I had at my desk and asked whose work it was, I told her it was mine. Shortly after that, we started negotiations to show my portfolio,” Flanagan says.
Were it not for that chance meeting, Patrick’s work may have never been seen by the public. Growing up, Flanagan says that he was never really encouraged in his artistic endeavors. He also explains that he tended to hide himself, and keep his life private, therefore never really considering sharing his work with others. “When I was taking photos it was more for myself, with no thoughts that they were something others would be interested in,” he says.
Since his portfolio was first discovered, Patrick has gone on to display his work at a number of different galleries near his home in Ohio. His work has been show in Case Western Reserve University, Oberlin College, Ginko Gallery and Sandstone Gallery. And although Flanagan has had numerous gallery showings, he describes that first experience as being one that brought him both excitement, as well as anxiety. As he recounts, “The curator of the gallery told me how much everyone loved my work, but I was relieved when the first showing was over and was positive.”
Flanagan’s photography and poetry have similar threads throughout, which can easily be seen in his debut publication Gothic Dreamscapes. A poem titled Dark Beauty stands aside an image of a decaying angel statue in a cemetery, while an image of a backlit mausoleum is paired with a poem about suicide titled Goodbye. And although his poems are not directly based off of his photos, Patrick says that he thinks “the two easily complement each other.” With this book he sought to create something both “artistic and thought-provoking.”