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07

Oct

Rookwood Open Day

Invited to present a shroud workshop at the Rookwood Cemetery Open Day on 24 September, I happily agreed but then had to think about how to present a workshop about shroud making to an unknown quantity of people and what could I teach them in an hour?

The day was set up like a fair, with various stalls, musicians, attractions like horse and cart rides, vintage funeral cars, drumming groups, food stalls and face painting.  The allocated area for the workshop was an open space with a cover and the sound of a generator pumping out a lot of noise.  It was overwhelming at first but not put off as to how I would fit in with the unexpected environment I found myself to be in.

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01

Jun

Disconnected

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Since the Compass program that screened 20 March this year, some of you may have left comments on my website.

Unfortunately, I didn’t receive them due to an issue with the site.  Firstly, my apologies that you were left hanging.  The problem has been fixed, so I am told, so please, if there was something you would like to have shared, please send it again.

Communication is the thread that binds lives and experiences.  I would love you to keep binding. Thank you.

01

May

Where on the road to ‘?’

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It would be strange for me to share anything from the Daily Telegraph. The reason I’m doing so with this article because it draws attention to the change in our death ceremonies. There is increased awareness of our freedom to make funerals whatever we wish them to be with nobody’s rules required but our own.

Whilst we can make a ceremony whatever we want it to be, as the article demonstrates, the highly styled antics on the horizon that turn ceremonies into a societal spectacle rather than a personal response to loss of a life concerns me. Link to article below.

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07

Feb

Wrapped

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Image: Christo and Jeanne-Claude Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98, photo Wolfgang Volz © 1998 Christo

Christo Javacheff, the Bulgarian artist known simply as Christo, has always intrigued me since I first saw cliff faces and large buildings wrapped in silk cloth, and fields ribboned with bright yellow or brilliant white bands running for kilometres, his unique concept defying an art genre.

Recently I came upon a book about his life and his artistic collaborator and wife, Jeanne-Claude, titled Christo and Jeanne-Claude – A Biography by Burt Chernow (Wolfgang Volz 2002).  It was interesting, to me, how Chernow writes about the viewer’s response to the Christo’s earlier works of small wrapped objects, having no choice but to change the perspective of what viewers of the works saw not knowing exactly what to think.  Chernow says, “The act of shrouding can set routine perception askew.” (p.82)

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18

Oct

A Fallow Year

For various reasons this year has been one of retreat for me.  I’ve spent days wondering about Shroud Memento; about what to do, how to proceed, and when I pondered, so much thought surfaced that I didn’t know where to start so I poured it all back into where it came from; the timing wasn’t right.  Last week I came across Canadian poet and performer, Tanya Davis’ post, about her leave of absence from her work and she too found it difficult to express what had been happening for her.  Tanya used the writing of David Whyte to express her status. I saw Whyte’s words as a gift for they describe the essence of what has been happening in my life.  Whyte’s words  may offer clarity and insight into your own life

“Hiding is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Even hiding the truth from ourselves can be a way to come to what we need in our own necessary time. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear.

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07

Oct

Live Well Leave Well

Thankfully, we now hear more conversations and professionals speaking about our funeral ceremonies and the problematic lack of conversation around death, such a key moment of Life as is birth.  Death and dying are often categorised as a ‘health’ issue rather than a social issue.   It is not yet deemed a normalcy to talk openly about our own impending death or explore the range of funeral ceremonies and practices.  The traditional tendency for most of people is to leave preparation and decisions up to chance, or on the shoulders of family and friends (should they be beyond decision making) to speak on their behalf often guessing what they think would be right at the time, or with an undertaker or cleric who won’t know the deceased or their history.

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22

Aug

Still Life

What a perfect title for all that it connotates.    Still Life is a film about a man, John May, who works for a London local council and whose job is to find any relatives and friends of those who have passed away, alone.  This film isn’t just about people dying, it is about all aspects of life such as the events that connect people, our fears and motives behind our actions and creation of thought.

 

Still Life reminds us of what occurs in life yet are seldom seen by us on any day to day level.  Apart from an occasional story in the newspaper, we need to know that people do die alone and someone has to address the removal of the body, emptying of the living space, family or friends informed and a funeral to be arranged.

08

Aug

Celebration

Yesterday I hosted a workshop as a contribution to the important event of Dying to Know Day, an event that hosts and supports celebration of life and information about end of life preparation and after death ceremonies.

Isabella, who travelled from Melbourne to be with her ill friend, Marie, arriving before Marie died soon after.  Isabella came to my studio to work on the ideas she had in mind for a shroud for Marie yesterday.  Isabella presented with a piece of calico tie-dyed blue because Marie loved water.  She brought patterned material to make a heart-shaped centre that will feature a photo of her friend, and cut out blue birds, creating a connection to the brooch Isabella wore to our workshop.

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24

Jul

It Could Be You!

Dying to Know Day (D2KD) is held on Friday, August 8th an event organised and hosted by The GroundSwell Project http://www.thegroundswellproject.com  It is a day of information, contemplation, celebration and action.  It is about discussions on our experience of death and what we know, or don’t. It is about the choices we make in preparation for our end of life, or don’t, and it’s about finding out the types of things we can do but are seldom told by those in the funeral industry, or feeling comfortable in our communities to ask the questions we wish to ask or to speak the stories about the death of our people without deemed to be morbid or inappropriate.

My role in D2KD is to host a free workshop for someone who would like to start a shroud for their own end of life preparation, or to make a shroud for someone as a gift.  It could be a shroud for someone in memoriam or for a family pet.

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30

Jun

Tender

Tender is a documentary film made by Lynette Wallworth, a Newtown-based artist and filmmaker, presenting an amazing and ordinary group of people living in Port Kembla who started a not-for-profit funeral service.  The Port Kembla Community Project started Tender Funerals from necessity as too many of its members had to burying their dead incurring funeral costs far exceeding their meagre savings and not satisfied with the way in which the felt about the ceremonies on offer.

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