Thursday 30 June 2011

Will You Join The A Graceful Death Exhibition?

New Paintings And New Interviews Required

A Graceful Death is now a well known and wonderful exhibition.  It makes a big impression on those who come to see it, and those who help it to move around the country.  The paintings are full of love, enquiry and passion.  The love is a response to the power of the human spirit at the end of life.  The love is for those who are dying and for those who are left behind, watching. The love is for the helplessness of approaching death and the loneliness of the person who will die.  And of course, the love started for me, with the death of my partner Steve.  I am still loving Steve through the work with everyone in A Graceful Death. 

The enquiry is about the process of ending a physical life.  How on earth does this happen, and what is it about?  It is what we will all do, we will all be dead one day, and we will all have to approach our death somehow.  What is it all about?  How does the body fold up and die, what is this thing called Life and when it has left a person, where does it go?  This enquiry is about the most important part of our life, the ending of it.

And passion?  That is the art.  That is the medium in which I am trying to explore this phenomenon.  I am a painter and my way of searching, looking, asking and presenting my enquiries, is through painting.  I paint with astonishment, looking at those who I paint for the exhibition with such curiosity, such a wish to understand, such admiration.  

I am a talker too.  I am making a film with my colleague Neill Blume, and I want to hear what those who are in the exhibition have to say.  I am intrigued by what they have to say - what is happening to them?  How are they feeling about dying?  Those that are bereaved and have watched someone else die, what happened to them in their bereavement?  I want to talk about dying, the end of life, the personal journey of each one of those who are in the exhibition and more.  I want to discover everything, I want to paint it, record it, and I want all of us to talk about it.  I want all of us to want to know too.

A Graceful Death is a wonderful exhibition.  It is expanding and more people are coming forward to take part and to be painted, interviewed and written about.  I am oh so thrilled with this.  This exhibition has dealt with death through illness, is dealing with death through suicide, has been approached to deal with the death of a stillborn child, is dealing with death through old age.  I am open to work with anyone who feels that they can play a part in A Graceful Death.  

If you are, or are with, someone on the journey towards death, and want to join the exhibition then please contact me.  Each person who I work with in the exhibition is different.  Each person has their own story and an image that suits just them.  Talk to me.  We will do what is best for your story.  If you are working through a bereavement and want to be a part of A Graceful Death, talk to me.  I would like to paint you as you really are, I would like for you to be as sad or recovered or mad or lonely or OK as you really are.  When Steve died, I was mad.  My behaviour was totally off the wall, and I have not found anything like it in any text book on grief and bereavement anywhere.  I painted myself in that state too.

Your stories and your images are part of the wider exhibition which aims to make it safe and possible to talk about dying.  I have found that those who come to the A Graceful Death exhibition and who have experienced the death of someone, wears that experience like a mist around them.  Not unlike childbirth; once you have children, the world changes and you see things differently for ever.  When I had my children, I remember feeling that no words could ever have prepared me for the enormity of what had happened.  But other parents understood, and it was all I could talk about for years.  I was turned inside out by the whole process of birth, babies, the changes in my body and mind, the pains, the fears, the bonkers idea that I could create new people.  Tiny needy wonderful babies that never gave me a moment to rest or think or even recover.

The experience of dying is as powerful.  It is where we need to find space to talk and make it reasonable so that when we do it, it is not an anonoymous and unspeakable journey.

If you want to talk about taking part, please email me.

Hiram Burnett. 
His daughter Cecil found him impossible to like but loved him as he died. 

A Graceful Dying.  Waiting in the Hospice

Alone Triptych.  All that is left is a pair of slippers.  I painted this of myself when I was in a dreadful mess.

Anne and Peter Snell.  Peter wanted to be in the A Graceful Death exhibition to help others by his dying, but didn't live to see this finished picture.

Dancing Steve Out Of Life.  He is pulling away as we dance into the future

Survivor.  I have survived the grieving process.  I need nothing in this painting but the colours, there is no indication that I have come through except the bright warm colours around me.

Talk to me.  I want to hear from you.

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