The idea for The Art of Grieving stemmed from a desire to explore death and loss in a different way. Founder Kate Ray, who's part of our Bereavement Advisory Group, began developing a new approach for reaching out to people affected by bereavement or loss in 2017. Since then, more than 90 professional and amateur artists have contributed to Art of Grieving exhibitions.
The proposal for an art exhibition came from a wish to offer an alternative environment for support in addition to the more traditional types of bereavement support, such as counselling. By creating a new artistic forum where people could participate either as artists or attendees, it was hoped that many people would be drawn to the opportunity for creative exploration and expression. To find out more about The Art of Grieving, visit the website here.
The Art of Grieving Festival will take place at the St Albans Museum + Gallery in Hertfordshire between the 27th May-4th September. The Festival aims to help break the taboo and encourage openness and conversation about loss, bereavement and death.
The Festival will include the work of over 50 artists exhibiting paintings, sculptures, photos, short films, textiles, songs and poetry about loss, bereavement or death. Every piece will be accompanied by a description of the circumstances in which it was created or the inspiration behind its creation. The artists taking part will be sharing intensely personal work and they are doing it because they want to be part of open and honest conversations about this important part of life. Loss of a child; loss of a sibling; loss of a parent; loss of a partner; loss of a home; loss of a relationship; loss of identity; loss due to suicide, cancer, Covid - all of these and more will be part of the 3 month exhibition.
Festival organiser Kate Ray explains “ Loss, bereavement and death are all a part of life that is too often ignored or hidden away. The Art of Grieving exhibitions enable artists working in any medium to share work related to these issues. This coming together of artist and audience generates new and important human connections around a shared desire to explore these often taboo subjects. “
For contributing artist Rebecca Gibbs, that coming together of artist and audience has been very meaningful. “ The space that 'The Art of Grieving' exhibition is carving out for not only those grieving but also for others wanting to understand and support is so important. To be part of such a space is extremely enriching for me. Art both in practice as the artist but also as the viewer has been a really important processing tool for understanding myself and my loss. I’m so pleased my art will be surrounded by other powerful and beautiful pieces and will help to create a space where people can visit and know they are not alone in their grief.” Rebecca Gibbs.
Events taking place as part of the Festival include:
Good Grief by Ugly Bucket Theatre: www.uglybuckettheatre.co.uk
8pm Wednesday 20th July 2022 at the Abbey Theatre, St Albans
A dying man’s last wish: for his friends to create a show about death. 'It’s fast, it’s funny and it plumbs the emotional depths exquisitely... exciting, innovative work' - The Stage. Featured by BBC Stories, Good Grief is a paranormal physical performance of loss, and the memories left behind, brought to you by ‘one of the UK’s most exciting young theatre companies’ – New Diorama. Profit from the performance will be donated to Rennie Grove Hospice Care and The Ollie Foundation.
Finding Magic by Beverley Bishop: www.beverleybishop.com
Friday 5th August at the Trestle Arts Base Theatre, St Albans
Do you believe in Magic? This amazingly poignant and unique show, which has been to the Edinburgh Fringe, was created by Beverley about her journey with grief following the death of her son, Jess Fairweather, who took his own life in October 2018, aged 20. In October 2020 Beverley said, “Finding Magic is about my ups and downs and the grief process so far, but it’s also broader than that it’s about finding life force, finding magic and looking at what it is that makes us feel alive. ''C Arts said 'Equal parts moving and magical, Finding Magic is a story of loss, longing, love and laughter.' Proceeds from ticket sales go to The Ollie Foundation
The Art of Grieving documentary by Preston Zeller: theartofgrievingfilm.com
7.30pm Sunday 19th June 2022 at the Sandpit Theatre, St Albans.
This amazing documentary follows artist Preston Zeller, who feels compelled to take on a year-long creative project after the sudden death of his 35 year old brother. Preston decides to create an intuitive abstract painting every day for 365 days as a way to process his grief and he shares the ups and downs of this momentous challenge in the film. This award winning and thought provoking film also addresses why Western culture is so poor at dealing with grief and explores whether art can help. Following the screening there will be a Q & A with filmmaker and artist, Preston Zeller and clinical director of the Art Therapy Project, Lindsay Lederman. Profit from the performance will be donated to Rennie Grove Hospice Care.
Zentangle sessions and 2 Death Cafes: www.artofgrieving.org.uk
At a Zentangle session participants can enjoy 90 minutes of calm where regardless of artistic ability they can create a unique and beautiful piece of art. This mindful art session offers the opportunity to see no mistakes, only opportunities.
At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. The objective is to offer an accessible, respectful and confidential space for discussion of this subject ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the best of their (finite) lives’.
For more information and to book tickets visit The Art of Grieving website at www.artofgrieving.org.uk