Making a Mourner: The Life, Love and Grief of Courtney Lane

Hairwork Artist, Courtney Lane explains the Victorian tradition of sentimental hairwork and her lifelong fascination with it. It’s just as easy to chalk it up to a series of peculiar happenstances in her life that led her here, but neither of these explanations tells the whole story.

Art is Not About Pretty Things

Artist Sara Lucas challenges us to see the transience in beauty. Three years on from her breast cancer diagnosis she reflects on the moment her priorities changed. A few fashion magazines and marker pens later she felt alive. After all, we’re all going to die anyway, pretty or not!

Nothingness, Acceptance, Resurrection: Creating a Second Life

By Mia-Jane Harris My work delves into the curious, fascinatingly odd and morbidly beautiful. I make intriguing juxtapositions between the gorgeous and the macabre, aiming to intrigue the viewer and pull them in to my world with strange objects and morbid curios to manipulate their emotions on the subject of mortality – life, death & resurrection.Continue reading “Nothingness, Acceptance, Resurrection: Creating a Second Life”

Maiden’s Bloom: The Art of Emilia Olsen

Olsen’s faceless maidens, with their pink, sun-kissed flesh, confront their mortality and heartbreak with the age-old symbol of vanitas – a grinning, bleached skull. Much like Persephone dragging the lush flora down with her descent into Hades, Olsen’s subjects embrace the darkest part of their ego within a state of botanic euphoria.

Collector, Protector & Keeper

Rebecca Reeves draws upon the Victorian era with a focus on mourning symbolism, spiritualism and superstitions. Through her “cocooning” technique, she encapsulates grief, struggle and the suffocation of loss. She shares with us some of her beautiful creations, taking us behind a veil of tears.

In The Future, We are Dead

German artist Eva Müller created this incredible graphic novel for her final year project at art school. Here she opens up about her own fear of death and the personal experiences that inspired this creation. You can support a campaign to get a copy of your very own too.

Iris Schieferstein’s Death and The Maiden

Gabriella Daris met German sculptor and taxidermy artist, Iris Schieferstein, at her studio—43km outside of Berlin, by the Langer See (Long Lake)— where she encountered giant freezers filled with carcases— major raw materials for the artist’s work.

Beauty in Decomposition: An Interview With Artist AJ Hawkins

Death & the Maiden co-founder, Sarah Chavez, talks to artist AJ Hawkins about her recent series, The Reclamation, which beautifully examines the decomposition of human bodies and the nutrient cycle through art.

Tubercular Venus: When the Beauty Standard was Dying

If society’s beauty standard dictates a ‘proper’ woman should have pale skin and wear a crinoline that makes it near impossible for her walk through a doorway, chances are, that is a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home. So what does it say about a culture when the height of beauty is to be slowly dying of a horrific illness?

Dead Good Gifts 2016

It’s that time of year. Some of us will be sitting back with a smug sense of achievement, whilst others pretending they have plenty of time. Here at Death and the Maiden we have complied our annual list of wondrous deathly fem gifts. There should be plenty of inspiration for your last minute dash andContinue reading “Dead Good Gifts 2016”

Protest, politics & power: the tales of martyrs Anne Askew & Margaret Pole

Nikki Shaill, Director of Art Macabre Death Drawing salons and Drawn at the Tower, discusses the lives and deaths of two female martyrs from English history. On Wednesday evening, an event will take place inviting guests to draw these figures on the site where they were both executed and buried at Tower of London’s ChapelContinue reading “Protest, politics & power: the tales of martyrs Anne Askew & Margaret Pole”

A Celebration of Death

Festival of Ian Smith, 28th October – 23rd December, 2017 at Edinburgh’s Summerhall is set to be an eclectic mix of art, music, performance and installation – all investigating, challenging, confronting or celebrating death. The festival explores why we often find it difficult to talk about death in our society, and how art and artistsContinue reading “A Celebration of Death”

The Punished Suicide

Ivan Cenzi brings a strange story of suicide to Death and the Maiden this week. One beginning with sorrow and ending in spectacle. It’s 1863 and on hearing of a young girl’s suicide, anatomist Lodovico Brunetti requests her body be brought to him for experiments. What evolves from his casting and preservation work is unexpected.Continue reading “The Punished Suicide”

An Intimate Evening With Death Herself

Douglass Truth woke up after 3 days and didn’t remember anything of the time, but it was like he had been taken somewhere and given something to bring back. The journey from here Douglass found himself on was unexpected to say the very least. One of change, discovery and realization. Tonight we meet Dorothy and learn thatContinue reading “An Intimate Evening With Death Herself”

Eden

In the Borderland, the alien presence can be felt everywhere. This week our friend and the founder of Foolish People, John Harrigan, takes us on a journey to the shores of Eden. Away from the fixed and familiar, into a state of transition. One of suffering, creativity and truth. Grief is a poison bullet. Only withContinue reading “Eden”

A Better Understanding of Death

Last Thursday Death & the Maiden’s Lucy Talbot attended the Good Funeral Awards, as we had been nominated for the “Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death” award 2016. Here Sarah and Lucy (the Maidens) reflect on the values at the core of their mission and introduce to you the other nominees in theContinue reading “A Better Understanding of Death”

Life On Mars

There is something in the work of photographer Karen Jerzyk that cannot be put into words. The otherness of a world created from the abandoned and discarded is captured with a deep, dark softness. Each image tells us a story only our emotions can read. Karen shares her journey onward from her father’s sudden death in 2011. Her soul and life forever shifted in that period of time in a way that would truly change her outlook and her art forever.

Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief

Nicholas Johnson is the artist behind Divine Excess, an online shop that sells bespoke pieces inspired by Mexican folk art and iconography. Here we find out more about the influences that inspire these intricate creations. From the saintly to the cult of Santa Muerte, Nick also shares some examples of his work whereby femininity isContinue reading “Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief”

#BoneLifeWife

Regina Marie Cohn left a success career in fashion to work by her husband artist Ryan Matthew Cohn’s side. Embracing her inner shadow, Regina explains how she began on this intriguing journey and found true purpose and passion amongst the specimens and oddities of their New York home. With so many exciting projects underway weContinue reading “#BoneLifeWife”

Sleeping Beauty

A beautiful work of fiction for you this week from Angie McLachlan. Capturing the essences of a myriad of deaths, feelings and experiences, plucked from her 25 years serving families & caring for the dead through the sacred art and science of Embalming. Making clear this is more than just a job, Angie delves into theContinue reading “Sleeping Beauty”

Modern Mourning

Laurel Witting creates bespoke pieces of jewelry that pay homage to mourning practices of the past. Each piece unique, she finds influence & sometimes materials in the forgotten corners & dusty boxes of yesterday. Handcrafting modern mourning jewelry using traditional beading patterns to both reflect Victorian design & commemorate the dead. Laurel hopes that her mourningContinue reading “Modern Mourning”

Keening & the Death Wail

S Elizabeth interviews musician Gemma Fleet of The Wharves on her project “Lost Voices” which explores vocal improvisation in folk culture. Volume 1. “Keening and the Death Wail” has roots in Fleet’s own childhood. She believes she encountered an Irish traveler funeral; an “unhindered display of grief” wherein the woman in mourning was not being hushed,Continue reading “Keening & the Death Wail”

Death & Video Game Development

As a video game developer, Gabby DaRienzo has always been interested in how death is represented & dealt with in games. The interactivity of video games makes them the perfect medium to explore topics like death, giving players the opportunity to participate in and explore mortality, loss, and grief directly. In this post Gabby sharesContinue reading “Death & Video Game Development”

Stitching Mortality

Rebecca Hampton creates embroidery inspired by Victorian mourning practices and the fragility of our own mortality. Drawing influence from Post-Mortem Photography and historic funeral customs each piece becomes it’s own beautiful little Memento Mori.

The Light Witch

Photographer Courtney Brooke creates a haunting visual poetry rich in the feminine ties to nature & spirituality. Her images capture a beautifully bleak moment through stunning landscape in a dream like world. With influences such as witchcraft, the romantics, mother earth and death, Brooke explores what it is to exist in a human form.

The Female in Mourning Jewels

Hayden Peters, founder and creative director of Art of Mourning gives us an illustrated tour of female mourning jewellery. Exploring the mourning industry of the 16th-19th centuries we learn about different trends in design and how this reflects cultural attitudes and social norms of the time. From memento mori to locks of hair and cutting diamondsContinue reading “The Female in Mourning Jewels”

On The Street With Saint Death In Tepito, Mexico

Dr Andrew Chesnut is author of the only book on Saint Death in both Mexico & the US. Here he shares the experience of attending The Santa Muerte rosary service held in Tepito, Mexico City’s most notorious barrio. This is the signature public ritual of the burgeoning cult of the skeleton saint. Accompanied by talentedContinue reading “On The Street With Saint Death In Tepito, Mexico”

Drawn at the Tower

When the wonderful people at Art Macabre invited Death & the Maiden’s own Lucy Talbot to experience the first Drawn at the Tower, a series of events at the Tower of London after dark, how could she say no? Particularly when it would be the She Wolf of France walking into the beautiful low litContinue reading “Drawn at the Tower”

Dead Good Gifts 2015

It’s the eve of December and the countdown is officially on. It’s time to start thinking about Christmas gifts to avoid the last minute dash we all know and loath. If you want to shop independent then you need to start getting those orders in. Here at Death & the Maiden we have decided to helpContinue reading “Dead Good Gifts 2015”

Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs

Historian, Verity Holloway’s first novella Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs is about magic, makeup, crypts, and clownfish. But mostly, it’s about our obsession with keeping the dead around. Here Verity shares how this book began as a few notes and takes us back to her first encounter with the incorrupt body of Saint Spyridon in Corfu.Continue reading “Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs”

Deathly Maidens

Film maker Wesley Chambers shares his top five “Death and the Maiden” films with us. These are not only must see movies but also the masterpieces that influenced his latest film Ligatures. You can watch Wesley’s short film by following the link and find yourself on a seductively surreal journey with two deathly maidens.

Is Taxidermy a “Girl Thing”?

I get called a lot of things by taxidermy enthusiasts, animal-rights activists, and the media. I’m apparently an instructor, an expert, a hipster, an animal hater, a sicko, a stuffer…but one of the most puzzling things I have been called recently is a “woman taxidermist” and I get asked the same question time and timeContinue reading “Is Taxidermy a “Girl Thing”?”

Skeletons & Young Girls

Even today, Death and the Maiden, depicted together, have lost nothing of their morbid and unsettling charm. And they still speak to the most hidden part of our souls; on one hand reminding us of the fleeting nature of the body, but suggesting on the other hand that there’s a secret complicity between beauty andContinue reading “Skeletons & Young Girls”

Bringing Franz Fieldler Back to Life

It’s a strangely sweet and innocent romance that is portrayed between them. Is the woman kneeling at the skeleton’s feet pleading with him, or in loving adoration? Are those boney arms of death tightly wrapped around the nude maiden’s flesh done so in a passionate embrace of lust and longing, or aggressive entrapment? Who isContinue reading “Bringing Franz Fieldler Back to Life”

Fears, Hopes & Dreams

Grief and loss are a natural part of life, but we can never estimate the impact it will have on our day to day lives, it walks with us every day. When people truly disrupt our lives in both positive and negative ways they are never forgotten, they grow with us and shape us. IContinue reading “Fears, Hopes & Dreams”

The Passing Diaries

With a tearful embrace and our sobs of grief echoing throughout the arrival terminal, I fully realized the profound nature of our visit. Thirty minutes later we were at my mothers bedside.. her frail body illuminated by a single bulb above her head. The room was so quiet, the air still in anticipation of someContinue reading “The Passing Diaries”

Lost Souls

This week features one of Death & the Maiden’s favourite shops. Samantha Lyn owner of Funereal Ephemera collects postmortem photographs, memorial cards, funeral photographs and cemetery photographs. They’re forgotten, only to be revealed generations later, to modern eyes with a modern sense of death and mourning. A piece of history lost and found again. Samantha sees thoseContinue reading “Lost Souls”

Tears Become Ideas

In some places, the ability to sing or recite ritual laments became part of a feminine portfolio of skills, along with cooking, spinning, mending and cleaning. Here, author Sarah Murray shares an adaptation from her wonderful book Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre, How We Dignify the Dead to give us insightContinue reading “Tears Become Ideas”

Bereavement cards just got personal

Inspired Goodbyes was created by Sophia Lucop-Leech and Helen Lawson. After experiencing their own bereavements they created a positive business making sympathy cards and gifts more personal.

Death Under Glass

The presence of a microscope in the morgue or the office of a forensic scientist seems to be a symbol to impress upon audiences the seriousness of the science being performed in that episode. But viewers are never shown “the pathologist’s view of the world”, so to speak – exactly what does the doctor see in that eyepiece and what does it mean for the case? One of the most intriguing aspects of forensic histology is the fundamental tension between the lovely images created from post-mortem specimens and the shock resulting from the realization of their source. However, the beauty of human tissue is undeniable, creating a complex interplay of light and cellular morphology in brilliant Technicolor.

Death, Sex, Religion and the Erotic Women

Dr Christina Welch explains that Europe has had a long history with Sex and Death, one intimately tied to religion. This post explores a genre of art produced during this time period that melds these themes. It examines ‘Death and the Maiden’ artworks by Germanic proto-and early-Reformist artists who highlighted the folly, futility and transience of earthly vanities, through the use of erotic death imagery that juxtaposed an eroticized woman, who stood as a symbol of life and fecundity, with a male/masculine representation of death.

Death has a voice

S Elizabeth has created this beautiful playlist of women  who have constructed and composed aural memento mori exclusively for Death & the Maiden. As humans, we occupy a unique place in the saga of mortality, and these women in particular offer illuminating perspectives on the subject as it relates to the afterlife, funerals & wakes, ancestral memories, etc.