Death, grief and loss are highly personal experiences but a collection of artists have used those emotions to create beauty in art that at the same time explores the taboos around death and provokes deep thought.
The Thin Veil brings together the works of a group of artists from around the country that look closely at loss, memory and grief.
Local artist Jessie Stanley’s work Southern Cross, a fragile paper skull suspended over a chart, explores the losses associated with Australia’s early history.
“I started making the paper skull a couple of years ago on Australia Day as a gesture of solidarity for our first people and what that day means to them,” she said.
A more recent addition to the work is a chart which the skull is suspended over. The chart has a number of hand-embossed words that detail the losses that both sides – indigenous Australians and early settlers –endured in the early days of settlement.
“It’s intended to spur thought and discussion and raise awareness of the frontier war,” Ms Stanley said.
Another piece is from Adelaide artist Saskia Scott who lost her mother when she quite young, and kept her mothers clothes. Seven years later she opened the clothing and processed her grief by dipping the clothes in to black porcelain and firing it. The clothing burnt away but the porcelain remained creating a fragile work suggesting her mother is still present, yet she is not.
Local artist, Kim Anderson’s work will hang from the ceiling, her ethereal tissue giving the name to the exhibition, and Bethany Atkinson-Quinton’s podcast will be played in a corner, giving people a chance to listen quietly to her piece on grief in their own sanctuary.
Ms Stanley, who attended the exhibition opening last week, said the topic was difficult for some people to address.
“The theme is thin veil and the works deal with death but in very different ways … and obviously it confronts lots of people but I think it’s really interesting to address this kind of topic in a gallery setting,” she said.
“Death is something we confront in our lives but in Australian society it’s not embraced as part of life. It can be a very isolating experience losing somebody you love and because of that I think it’s really important to engage in this topic in a social setting, to normalise it and give people a space to think.”
Uniquely, the exhibition also encompasses the stark reality of death and the fight for life with a part of the gallery featuring a series of photographs on organ donation, from the moment of death and permission being secured, right through to the actual transplant.
“What I found interesting was the association with Donate Life and the front room being dedicated to telling the story of someone losing their life, but those organs being donated to someone which gives them life,” Ms Stanley said.
The Lost Ones Contemporary Art Gallery is hosting The Thin Veil until January 3.