Friday, 28 January 2011

BBC Radio Manchester Inverview In February About Exhibition for my website for the well known Jesus on the Tube image and story for an account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis for a short film by Bertram Somme of the very start of the A Graceful Death series of paintings

BBC Radio Manchester Interview Coming Up -
A Graceful Death Exhibition

St Nicholas Church
408 Kingsway 
Manchester M19 1PL

Opening Night Saturday 19 February from 6-9pm
Closing Night Party Friday 25 February from 7-9pm

Open during the week daily from midday-1pm and from 7-8pm
And also by appointment on 0161 432 7009 with Rev Rachel Mann 

The preparations for A Graceful Death are in full swing and slowly things are happening.  To arrange this exhibition means that we all have to do hundreds of seemingly unconnected little things, and wonder how it will all come together.  And suddenly it does.  It comes together and we can see where it is going.
Today I spoke to a very nice man at BBC Radio Manchester.  He has arranged for me to speak to Heather Stott on Friday 18 February, somewhere between 10am and 10.30.  I am very happy about this,  Heather Stott sounds a lovely lady, and I hope A Graceful Death will come off well in the interview.

I took a mad notion to ask someone I know who has come through the grieving process, if I could paint her and have it all done by 17 February.  This very admirable lady lives in Ireland, and I would have to work fast and over the internet to do the portrait in time.  However, if she agrees, it will be worth it.  Her story should be on the blog here one day.  

So this is a small blog to update you all on the progress of the exhibition being set up and sorted out, for Manchester.  Next weekend, I go to stay with Rachel and receive the paintings which are being driven all the way from Dublin directly to Manchester by an extremely modest and kind man, who has offered to do this to help support the A Graceful Death exhibition.  I have not seen the paintings for a couple of months, so it will be great to see them again.

I look forward to seeing you all there on Saturday 19 February from 6 - 9pm too.  Or at any time during the week by appointment with Rachel, or at the Friday Closing Party on 25 February from 7 - 9pm.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

A Graceful Death In Manchester, Filming And Exhibiting for my website for my other website for an account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis for a short video account of AGD at the very beginning by Bertram Somme

A Graceful Death In Manchester, Both Exhibition And Filming In Process

St Nicholas Church, 408 Kingsway, Burnage, Manchester M19 1PL

From Saturday 19 February to Friday 25 February
In the Church

Opening Times

Sunday to Friday open from 12 - 1 pm and from 7 - 8pm
All other viewings happily supplied via appointment through Rachel on 0161 432 7009 


With huge thanks to the Reverend Rachel Mann for this showing of A Graceful Death in Manchester.  Rachel has offered her church, St Nicholas in Burnage, for the paintings and poetry to be shown for a week.  The  details are above, and everyone is welcome.  There is the Opening Night Party and the Closing Night Party to which you are warmly invited.

It will be the first time A Graceful Death is shown in a church.  The paintings are full of love and compassion, which will be enhanced by the atmosphere of a church.  Many of us feel there is a spiritual dimension to our experience of bereavement, and many believe that our dying loved ones go straight into the presence of God.  Showing the paintings and poetry inside a church, where they are visible during services and to the public during the times the church is open, gives a comforting extra dimension to the effect of the A Graceful Death exhibition.

Dying and Death in Religious Art is an old theme.  There are many very moving paintings and sculptures of the crucifixion of Christ.  There are representations of the deposition - Christ taken down from the cross and held in his grieving mother's arms - and there are paintings of the entombment of Christ.  For example, look at Matthias Grunewald's disturbing Crucifixion 1510-1515, from the Eisenheim Altarpiece.  How painful and distressing is that?  As a child of about 6, I was shown a Giovanni Bellini deposition of Christ, which seems to be called Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels - except that the figure on the left is definitely his mother.  This painting changed my life.  I had only seen pretty pictures before and the power of this painting made me aware, in my little mind, that life was bigger than I had thought.  It has remained one of my most wonderful childhood memories.  And see Mantegna's Entombment of Christ, in the Brera Gallery in Milan, for a stark image of a dead body.  Painted in around 1500, it is a very stark image.

At this exhibition, Neill will begin his filming of the documentary of A Graceful Death, and will be quietly showing the paintings in situ, the reactions of those who are seeing them, and how the whole A Graceful Death works.  

Eileen Rafferty, my dear photographer friend, will be photographing the entire exhibition experience too.  We are writing a book on the paintings and on the story behind it.  Eileen will be photographing Neill filming, at some point too, which will be interesting.

Please come to see the exhibition.  It is profoundly moving and profoundly hopeful.  It is loving and it is raw.  Come and join us at the Opening and the Closing Night Parties.  I look forward to meeting you all.

Friday, 14 January 2011

A Graceful Death Film. The Beginning for my website for the Jesus on the Tube image and its story for an account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis for a small video of the beginnings of the AGD exhibition by Betram Somme

The Film Of A Graceful Death And What It Means

I have teamed up with a film maker to make a documentary film of A Graceful Death. 

The effect of the exhibition has been far reaching.  I have met and spoken with the most wonderful people while doing the A Graceful Death;  I have read some moving and deeply felt poetry, read some excellent writings, and had the honour of painting brave people at the end of their lives.  Creating an exhibition on such a subject as the End of Life and using Art to explore it can become utterly consuming, and I find it difficult to do all of it myself.  I long to talk to people about what is happening with the exhibition, I want to hear what the feedback is, I always want to hear what those who have a story to tell tell me, and I am moved and humbled to paint people who are at the ends of their lives - and I have to promote the exhibition, find the venues, raise the funds to go there and put it on - it is hard work to maintain and to do it all well.  

My friend Neill Blume is a film maker.  His response to the paintings was immediate and emotional, and he was very sure of how the film should be made.  I am in good hands with him, and he understands how sensitive - and how fantastic - this subject is.  We will introduce the story of A Graceful Death, and then film the preparation for an exhibition.  The actual exhibition will be an important feature, we will be able to interview those who wish to talk, about their reactions and their thoughts on the various subjects that it raises, about how it is to die, and what their story is.  Others who have had significant roles in making the A Graceful Death work will also be interviewed.  

The film is intended to carry the message of the exhibition further, to audiences that will not be able to come and see the paintings, but who have shared this experience of death and dying, bereavement and loss, love and hope.  We hope the film will be shown in as many places as possible, and will also accompany the paintings to each and every exhibition and talk and discussion of and about A Graceful Death.

Neill is a very sensitive and talented man, an artist through and through.  He is a thoughtful fellow, and has twenty or so years of film making for corporate and private clients.  We are thrilled and excited to be doing this film, but, terribly nervous too.  It is a big theme, a big undertaking, and it has to be done well.  Brilliantly, in fact.

  Part of the process is that we have to raise the money to make it.  We have begun to put that in motion, and will be fund raising in all sorts of ways soon.  We have talked to a couple of helpful and experienced fund raisers in the arts, and will be making a short promotional video next week with which to start our campaign.  Bearing in mind that this project is now all of two weeks old, we are inspired but have a long, long way to go.

A Graceful Death goes next to Manchester, the exhibition will be starting on the 19 February, in St Nicholas Church, Burnage.  The next blog entry will be about that.  Keep your diaries free, and come to the opening night at St Nicholas on that Saturday, 19 February.  Details in the next entry, within a couple of days.

Of course, when we have done the first promotional video, we will put it up here and you can all see it.  And donate.  You know you want to.

Until then - onwards and upwards.