Friday 28 March 2014

AGD in Preston Park, Brighton, this May. Exhibition, Public Discussions, Events and Presentations

A Graceful Death exhibition and project is part of Dying Matters Awareness Week.

Steve, in Worthing Hospital.  The first face I saw as I walked into the room was afraid, vulnerable.  The second face was seconds later, when he had composed his expression so that he was in control for all the people that would be coming and going for the day.


The A Graceful Death exhibition is coming to Brighton.

 St Peter's Church, next to Preston Manor, Preston Park, Brighton BN1 6SD.

Opening Tuesday 20 May and closing Friday 23 May.  

10am to 10pm.   Entrance Free, donations and contributions accepted (and encouraged)


The A Graceful Death exhibition in Preston Park, Brighton, is part of Dying Matters Awareness Week, and part of the Brighton Fringe Festival. 

You are invited to take part in the events planned for the week, each day covers a different aspect of end of life.

2 - 4pm daily and 6 - 8 in the evenings.   

Suggested Donation for these public debates and discussions - £5

Wednesday 21  May "Planning Dying"
Thursday 22 May "Supporting the Dying"
Friday 23 May "Communicating with the Dying"

Discussions chaired by 

 Bobbie Farsides, Professor of Clinical & Biomedical Ethics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Alan Bedford, Non Exec Director Martlets Hospice, child protection consultant & former NHS CEO.

Speakers include palliative care consultants and nurses, end of life care staff, hospital chaplains, consultants in care of the elderly, soul midwife Mandy Preece, and me, talking about telling the stories of the dying through art and words.

Plus Dementia Information Sessions by Dementia Friends Champion Nigel Spencer.

Check back on this site soon for the names of the speakers

The A Graceful Death exhibition is an experience, not just an exhibition.  Fifty two paintings, portraits of people who have agreed to tell their story, paintings representing the process of grief, and poetry sent in by visitors to the exhibition moved to express their own stories and thoughts.  Music, composed for the exhibition by musician Lizzie Hornby, will be playing plus filmed interviews of sitters talking about their dying by photographer Eileen Rafferty.   A film about the work of A Graceful Death made by Neill Blume will also be showing


The A Graceful Death experience is made up of your response.  The paintings are powerful, raw, honest, loving, uplifting and real.  The words from each sitter accompanying the portraits are unsentimental and profound, it will be hard not to be moved and hard not to want to question this process of dying, of the end of life. This is what I want.  I want to know what you are thinking, what the end of life means to you, and how you respond to these stories and images.  I ask my sitters two main questions - Who are you? and What do you want to say?  This is very important during all of our lives, but most important at the very end.  My sitters want to be seen and heard, they want their images and what they say to help people face the subject of dying.  None of them expected it, it was always a shock.  By taking part in this important exhibition, they are saying that you still have the time to prepare.  Use the time, so that unlike them, you are ready.

Claire Rudland, the latest sitter for the A Graceful Death Exhibition.  Claire's words for this painting are below
"A landmark the consultant said is the two years coming up since the end of my treatment as the end of this year. The longer I'm OK, the better my chances. This is what spurs me on, to do these things while I can, and for as long as I can. It doesn't mean that I don't 'brick it' sometimes but that is part of the excitement of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I may have said I didn't travel for ten years because I was afraid of flying and what happened? I got a life threatening disease anyway. I realised that when my time is up, it's up, whatever I will be doing, wherever I am. So now, the gift of cancer, conversely, has given me the gift of life, the gift of living. I'm no longer afraid of death as I've 'been there'. No way do I want to die, and it would be lovely to go slowly in the safe haven of the Hospice, say, when my time comes, but who knows? None of us know. It would be nice if it's not a violent death, none of us want that. I couldn't sleep this morning, so decided to message you."

Grateful thanks to Team AGD Brighton for all the hard work and dedication -

Nigel Spencer, palliative care nurse at St Catherine's Hospice and hypnotherapist for cancer sufferers, Revd Canon Peter Wells, senior chaplain Royal Sussex County Hospital and
Rachel Reed George, lecturer in palliative care St Barnabas Hospice.

If you want to know more, email me on  Updates on this site as they happen.  See you at the exhibition.

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