The A Graceful Death Exhibition and Project by Antonia Rolls is about what it means to die. Portraits, paintings and words from the end of life. Powerful, moving, loving, uplifting, inspiring. The A Graceful Death Project includes talks, presentations, discussions, events connected to awareness raising of end of life issues. The latest news, exhibitions, events and developments will be available here.
What Is It All About? What Is A Graceful Death For?
A Graceful Death is an exhibition of paintings from the End of Life. The story begins with the death of my partner from cancer in November 2007. I painted him in his last few weeks, days, and the day of his death, and have produced some very raw, powerfully real and beautiful paintings of the human body as it folds away into death.
The exhibition has grown over the last year to include other stories, images and experiences from those who are moved by the paintings to want to include thier own loved ones to be remembered. I have been working on portraits of people no longer with us, painted from images loaned to me by relatives of the person concerned, for inclusion in the A Graceful Detah exhibition. I have poetry sent in to me and I have now, at every exhibition, a small pot of flower for a young man called David, from his brother, who misses him and didn't want a painting or poetry to represent David.
Wy am I doing it?
I am doing it because I feel so passionately that dying is the most important part of our lives. I am doing this because I can communicate and reach out through paintings. I lost the man I loved, but, I am not the only one to have suffered bereavement. I know how it feels and I know how surviving it feels, and I can use these paintings to go far beyond that which words can say.
It is not a comercial venture. It makes me no money and the paintings cannot be sold. Somehow, the exhibition is growing and is travelling from place to place, and somehow it is being supported. The only way this exhibitioncan and does surbibe, is through donations and funding from indiiduals who have bisited the exhibition and have understood the importance of enableing this conversation on Life and Death.
The paintings are about Love and Loss and about How We Die. I will carry with me forever my loss of Steve. I will never forget how it feels to watch him die; there will always be a Before Steve and an After Steve. The paintings are meant to hold you. They are to strike that buried chord in your stomach, of recognition and understanding. I am doing this so that your experience is givern a small shock of empathy, and to ask you to Remember. The love is present in the care, the compassion and the detail that I paint into each picture. The love is in the fact that I want to honour those at the end of their journey, and that I am not afraid to do it.
And there is always the survival of those of us that are left behind. I have one painting which is dedicated to the fact that we do carry on, and life becomes good again, and happiness is not only possible, but right.
Our lives will end. We will die. After someone we love dies, the pain we feel, and the difference in our perception of life and death, is horribly real. These paintings are abut that pain and that difference. They are also about the Power of Life that continues regardless, whether we wish it to or not. I am painting dying, death, loss, illness, hope, love and redemption.