Claire L. Smith is back with another beautiful work of poetry. This time she explores the fragility of human mortality through a familiar figure… “She watched in a darkened awe, As in the dove’s beady eyes she saw, Nothing but a bloodied empty throne, Surrounded by rusting raven bones.”
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?
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”
Sara Cutting was told she had cancer. Triple negative breast cancer to be precise. Sitting in the barber’s chair, she instructed a shocked hairdresser to shave her head. This was the beginning of the Daily Different Headgear Challenge, Sara never could have imagined how far it would go. Her journey is an inspiration, learn how Sara found empowerment in a buzz cut and continues to spread an important message for all women.
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.
What started as googling, quickly became a visit to California and resulted in a rather sad discovery. In Hollywood, there are so many graves of long-forgotten or barely remembered stars that once shined brightly on the silver screen. This is not how these women should be remembered. Their stories should be told. Remembering them for who they were andContinue reading “Help Me Bring Them Back From The Dead”
Death & the Maiden’s co-founder, Sarah Chavez, delves into the reasons underlying the current interest many women seem to have with death, and the rise of the Death Positive movement. Exploring a question persistently asked and rooted at the very core of Death & the Maiden: Why are so many women currently interested in death andContinue reading “Death & the Maidens: Why Women Are Working With Death”
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”
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”
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”
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.
Patricia Lundy explores the relationship between death & the feminine regularly on her beautiful blog Somthng Eldritch. Through exploration of literature and Victorian history Patricia delves into the mourning rituals of a bygone era. In this post sexual suggestion and the male gaze is contemplated by visiting the works of two amazing authors. Kate MayfieldContinue reading “Shrouds or Lingerie? Traditional Female Burial Garments”
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.
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”
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”
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.
When the Empress died at the age of 64—still beautiful—her last will and testament was opened, and shocked the entire royal family. Instead of a state funeral and proper internment, the Empress requested that her body be garbed in the simplest cloth, then flung onto the streets. When people saw her delicate flesh rot away,Continue reading “Katabira no Tsuji – The Crossroad of Corpses”
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”
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”
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”
My Death and the Maiden pieces are little love poems about what might happen to the non-physical “us” after we die. I like to think of the best parts of us – LOVE – persisting when our meat and bones are no more.
How exactly did Yuli Somme go from making colourful hand-made felt tea cosies, felted seamless jackets and hats, and the occasional wall hanging to soft coffins? In this beautiful account of how creative direction can change rather unexpectedly we learn that the physical act of creation can release emotion, that from sorrow something truly life affirming canContinue reading “Transformative Powers through Making”
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”
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”
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.
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.
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.