After celebrating my dad’s birthday this week, following his suicide ten years ago, it has been interesting to reflect on how my art has come from a place of pronounced grief. My dad was always very supportive of the art I did. Despite him disliking the fact that I was a tattoo apprentice, he still supported my drawing and would help me with woodworking assignments. When he died I really struggled to create anything for a long time.
I no longer had the tattoo apprenticeship, so I had no reason to draw anymore. I went to uni to study fine arts, although I was having trouble completing it for reasons that I didn’t really understand at the time. But, it was through studying fine arts that I happened to find the art therapy course that I’m now doing.
As much as this course has taught me how to help other people through therapy, it has also been very useful to me in terms of self examination and coming to terms with my own grief. It was only after I started doing my course that I really felt that I needed to be creative again, and that I could be.
It was at this point that I started working with bones and flowers, making pieces for friends and family. Sitting in each moment and really examining each piece as I did, handling death in a respectful way, felt very cathartic.
I won’t ever understand why people, particularly in western cultures, don’t do more to celebrate rather than mourn those that have passed. After working as a vet nurse and seeing many animals having to be put down, despite our best efforts, due to injury or illness, I felt a lot of loss and a lot of sadness that there was nobody there to honour those lives.
This idea of celebrating a life lived instead of mourning it, is where I came up with the idea of Death and Delicacy, and that’s what I endeavour to do through my work: to encourage people to be able to form an emotional connection with things that have died and help make people less afraid of death as a result.