“How do you feel today?”

Materials: grass, feather, latex, steel pins, clay, paper-covered wire, banana skin cordage, wrapped rope, linen thread, paper cordage, stone, nettle cordage.

Death is an inevitable conclusion to life. It is surprising therefore how effectively society avoids talking or thinking about it. It usually occurs away from the domestic sphere, dealt with by professionals. All of medicine, beauty, lifestyle is about staying young, postponing death. So when one is given a terminal diagnosis, the shock is real and the emotions are tumultuous.

“How do you feel today?” is the opening line of most medical professionals and it is the hardest question to answer honestly.

Artist Helen Pakeman says: “For this work I investigated natural burial grounds, end of life care and the medical trends accompanying this field and talked with people with cancer, and Soul Midwives. I decided to focus on the emotions that were most universally experienced and I wanted to distil those emotions creating simple objects that spoke at a visceral level. I also tried to use natural materials as far as possible, remembering that being assimilated back into the earth is the ultimate conclusion to existence.

I am very mindful that there is no order to the rollercoaster of emotions that sometimes overwhelms, and that the journey is not linear. And I feel strongly that accompanying someone on their last journey is both an honour and a privilege and that both gain immensely from the experience.

Being allied to the ‘Festival of Living and Dying’ is a great opportunity to start the conversation.”

Part of Kicking the Bucket, a city-wide festival exploring the subject of death, bereavement and life.

Join us for the exhibition opening on Thursday 7 September, 6 – 8pm.