Death showcased in varied exhibition

Categories: Community Engagement.

Death: A Self-portrait showcases 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and includes rare prints by Rembrant and Goya among others. 

From human remains to Renaissance paintings, the collection is diverse and includes art works, historical artefacts, anatomical illustrations and ephemera from across the world. Some highlights include:

  • twentieth century installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead
  • a group of ancient Incan skulls
  • a spectacular chandelier made of 3,000 plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey
  • anatomical drawings
  • war art
  • antique metamorphic postcards.

Events associated with the collection include palliative care nurse at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Donna Lansdale speaking about her experiences in helping people to face death. This will take place on Wednesday (28 November 2012) from 3–4pm.

The exhibition, assembled by Richard Harris, is spread over five themed rooms and investigates the value of art in evolving ideas about death and the body and aims to open a window to people’s desire to make peace with death.

Kate Forde, Curator at Wellcome Collection says: “Richard Harris’s remarkable collection brings together an extraordinary range of creative responses to death. The exhibition is a testament both to the keen and curious mind of a collector and our imaginative and unending fascination with mortality, across cultures and history. Death challenges us to recognise the many faces of death.”

Richard Harris says: “The collection was from the beginning meant to be shown as an exhibition to the public, never as a private, person statement for my eyes only. I hoped to create a body of work that would chronologically and culturally capture the essence of death through its iconography, from masterpieces of fine art to the incidental. 

“It is my wish that what started out solely as a collection of objects based on the theme of death will become the visual component for a more serious conversation about the subject of death that we need to have in our society.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *