The exhibition "A GRACEFUL DEATH" by Antonia Rolls.
A Graceful Death started with painting the last few weeks, days and day of the life of my partner as he gracefully left this life. It has grown to include paintings of others at the most important part of their lives, as they near the end, and of those who are left behind.
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Sunday, 24 October 2010
Dublin's Response To A Graceful Death Exhibition So Far...
So far, Dublin has responded to the exhibition with grace and recognition. I am wondering what the difference is from reactions I have had in the UK, and I think there is no difference. The reactions in the UK perhaps were more tearful, maybe there were recent bereavements that came to the surface when the exhibition showed there. Here, in Dublin, the people who have come to see the A Graceful Death exhibition, have been wise, thoughtful and responsive.
The exhibition as you know, is a private exhibition, attended by invite only. This is because my wonderful Dublin friends are making their house over into a gallery for A Graceful Death paintings and poetry to be shown. They have created the most glorious gallery, as did Clarissa de Wend Fenton in Wimbledon when she transformed her home into a gallery for A Graceful Death in February last year. Here in Dublin, the house is very open plan and feels a little Japanese. It is large and light, and so the paintings hang in light, space and warmth. The pale wooden floors and window frames add a freshness to the environment in which the paintings hang and work very well indeed with the subject of dying, bereavement, love, life and hope.
We have hung a small exhibition of Jesus on the Tube paintings under the stairs here, which looks fun and upbeat, and in the kitchen we have made an exhibition of Every Day Angels, which is full of humour and lightness. It is important to mention that one of the walls in this large and friendly kitchen is deep rose pink. That is exactly my kind of wall colour, and the Angels hang with great jollity against such a vibrant and warm colour. My Dublin Hosts have set out tables and chairs and have provided cake stands full of cakes and cup cakes and provide round the clock pots of tea, glasses of wine and soft drinks. They have made this A Graceful Death exhibition into the A Graceful Death Experience of the Best Kind. Guests have been arriving in huge numbers, and have been welcomed into the house, and guided to the main exhibition where they take their time on their own, to make of the paintings and the exhibition what they will. My Dublin Hosts tell them to make their way round and end in the kitchen where tea and cakes or a glass of wine is waiting for them. And so, in the kitchen, there is a wonderful gathering of all sorts of people, chatting, talking, discussing, some wanting to talk of their experiences, some wanting to talk of ideas for the A Graceful Death to go to its next destination, some just chatting. And alongside the guests in the kitchen drinking their teas and coffees, eating the most amazing cakes, are paintings of Angels Having Tea, Angels Flying Into the Sky and Angels Chatting With Their Friends. The A Graceful Death exhibition works best alongside life, love and kindness.
Yesterday, I was interviewed by a very interesting Alan Stanford on 4fm radio here, about A Graceful Death. It made me think that a whole hour would not begin to cover the subject of this exhibition. It made me think that there is so much to talk of and so much to discuss, and there is such a huge place for Art and Creativity in the experience of Bereavement, Grief, Dying, End of Life. Goodness, there is so much Art can do here. Somehow, words in a conversation, words alone, are not enough to touch the places where we feel so deeply and often so very badly, our pain and loss and madness when we are bereaved. Oh goodness, there is such a place for art to help deal with those times.
I have met representatives from the Irish Cancer Society here at the exhibition, from the Irish Hospice Movement, from the Bethany Group who visit and are there for the bereaved, I have met representatives from the Glasnevin Trust, and a lovely kind and very experienced young director of an Undertaker Business here in Dublin. There have been many visitors who work in hospices as volunteers, there have been neighbours and friends of the Dublin Hosts, there have been nurses, doctors and the clergy. I will mention our first visitor, the local priest, whom I liked very much. He is a busy man, all priests are, and he took the trouble to come and be our first visitor. I didn't know that he had had to deal with his own bereavements until after he left and my Dublin Hosts told me. Not only was I delighted that he came, I was really touched that he should come while things were not so easy for him. And as he left, he gave me a donation to the A Graceful Death exhibition. An amazing start to the Dublin showing of A Graceful Death exhibition.
Today is our last day. The exhibition is scheduled to close at 6pm, but we are keeping it going for one extra day for those who can't make it during the weekend. I pack up and am off home to Bognor Regis on Tuesday.
The exhibition stays here in Dublin, and will go direct from Dublin to Manchester for its next showing in Februrary next year, at the Amazing Rev Rachel Mann's church, St Nicholas in Burnage, Manchester. That will happen because of the kindness of the Dublin Hosts' friend who drove all the way to Bognor from Dublin a few weeks ago to collect the paintings to bring them here, as his contribution to the exhibition. He has offered to take them from Dublin to Rachel's church so that it is easier to set up there. A big and heartfelt thank you to him.
When I get home, I will post pictures of the exhibition. The newest painting is the Self Portrait as a Survivor, and I met yesterday my next Survivor portrait. A lady who has lost a husband of 20 years, months before Steve died, who has carried on their wish to provide a place of rest and peace for those who are termally ill and need spiritual help. This lady is the next Survivor, and I hope to goodness we can put her into the next exhibition. With, too, her husband if she wishes. I would love it.