In September 2020 I set up a small organisation DUST, a shop which houses a collection of curios, artworks, zines and exhibitions by artists who have an interest in death and grief.
For the past 20 years I have worked as an artist in community settings and more recently (2012-) employed as senior lecturer in fine art at Falmouth University. I have exhibited my work both nationally and internationally, presented research on art and grief at conferences and written a book chapter on photography and death.
In 2006 my teenage son died tragically in an accident which left a vast and incomprehensible chasm of grief that over the years I have learnt to live with. Through my creative practice as an artist I have come to understand the depth of grief and strongly believe in the idea that we have an ongoing relationship with the dead. Creative rituals can connect us to the dead in a meaningful way. The dead remain present in the lives and hearts of the living.
Coming from a non-religious background I am intrigued by the ways in which different cultures grieve and diverse burial practices. This research is used in preparing lectures for students at Falmouth University covering topics such as the Irish tradition of Keening whereby professional mourners would be hired to sing to the souls of the dead at a funeral. The Ghanaian tradition of fantasy coffins involves making the coffin in the form of an object such as a car, fish, a bible or anything that was meaningful to the dead, similar ideas are beginning to happen in the west with home decorated cardboard coffin clubs. In Chile road-side shrines mark the home of the soul where a lot of conversation takes place with the dead and offerings are left and in Japan there is a remarkable telephone of the wind that is used to talk to the dead.