Wednesday, 18 May 2011

a Rather Strange Painting Assignment

Several weeks ago I was asked to be in an unusual group show. It was initiated by a local woman, Zenith Virago, well-known for her work concerning dying as the president of the Natural Death Centre in Byron Bay. Every year they have a Day of the Dead ceremony to honour everyones' dead.

There is also an art show. That sounded interesting, and I imagined what I might paint. But the curators already had a plan for that, I was to paint a coffin. A cardboard coffin.

It wasn't until it actually arrived in my studio that I got a little creeped out.
Fortunately the feeling seems to have passed. I was worried that I would continue to feel uncomfortable in my own studio.
The coffin lid is very long and narrow, rather difficult compositionally.
To begin I have drawn out lots of coffin lid shapes and am trying out different compositions, going into my sketchbook for possible ideas.

What would you paint on a coffin lid?


donna malone said...

I would paint the coffin lid as if it was my very last creative expression here on Earth. as if it was going to be placed over MY dead body.
this is such an interesting idea.
i think i would like to do one too...just for me.

Jodi Anderson said...

Perhaps I am a little biased because I just came in from the garden, but I would paint it as a patch of earth, with grasses and flowers growing out of it. I imagine that it would be as many graves are now. :)

Ricë said...

If it's cardboard, it may be an actual coffin, one like I had them use for my mother's cremation. They try to make you feel guilty for not buying something fancy (read: expensive), but I told them, hey, it's going to burn up. Why splurge? They didn't like me much and included the staples from the cardboard coffin in the bag of "cremains." Jerks.

Can't wait to see what you do with this!

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I will have to think about this one Zom...I want to be cremated to avoid all of this ritual. I will give this some thought. Peace, Mary Helen

Bren said...

Oh you do like a challenge! I have no idea what I'd paint on the lid of a coffin, but I can't wait to see what you come up with and look forward to those progress pictures :-)

Zom said...

Donna, strangely enough I hadn't thought about painting one for myself. I like the idea. Might wait another 25 years though - hopefully I will be really good at painting by then.

Jodi, that would be lovely.

Rice, it is a real coffin, for the actual burial. The Natural Death Centre is on about doing it yourself and ecologically. Why cut down the trees? (sorry about your experience. Your choice makes sense, why would you burn a wooden coffin?)

Mary Helen, I can understand that choice. I think I would like a tree buried on me and I can be fertilizer.

Bren, thanks for the enthusiasm. :)

Anonymous said...

Tricky. If it was for someone in particular it would be easy. I like the idea we become fertilizer when we are buried so plants/ flowers would be my suggestion.

susan christensen said...

I agree with Don, your task is perhaps made more difficult because it is impersonal. As a compulsive self-portrait painter, I think I'd go for some kind of auto-biographical image. Trees also make sense - or some of your lovely vines.
Make sure you show us what you finish up with!

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Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I would surround my self with art supplies and paints so I could change my interior as often as I would like. It is a creepy question I have never been asked! Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

nollyposh said...

i wouldn't paint it... i would leave some art supplies and get the guests at my funeral to write, sketch or whatever on my recycled cardboard coffin... And then (in a perfect world) i would like my coffin set alight in a boat and sent out to sea with a Maori chant sung to the Heavens (But i bet 'they' wouldn't let me do the second bit!) i had a girlfriend who had the Maori(chanting)send off... Was magnificent, sent shivers up my spine and brought tears to my eyes x

Zom said...

I just now understood your comment Mary Helen! You are talking about painting it from the inside!

Vicki, that is beautiful. But I don't intend this for myself. I am hoping someone else will buy it.

I have begun the sketching out. I will have to post more about the coffin soon.

Kel said...

i love nollyposh's idea

but look forward to seeing what you create on such an unusual canvas