Monday, 23 February 2015

Death and Transition exhibition - work in progress

The idea of the Death and Transition exhibition emerged when some of us from South London Women Artists group were chatting during the invigilation of another SLWA exhibition. 
We reflected on how the focus of life changes when our parents are getting old and vulnerable, or when people close to us go through a challenging illness. Several of us were in this situation and we thought it would be a good idea to address the concept of Death with an art exhibition. We also agreed that the Transition element in Death is very important: Death is not final, we are on the journey in which Death is just another station. In the end we are alone, each with our spiritual journey to go through. We might have different beliefs and cultural backgrounds, but Death unites us all, makes us all equal. 

We, the curators, invited the artists to take their own approach in expressing the concept of Death. We might treat it on a very personal, intimate level or go for a more abstract, universal expression. Death is as individual as it is universal and it is interesting so see what this means to different artists.

Personally, I assumed that my contribution to the exhibition will be one big, abstract painting. But something else emerged: a triptych of 3 very small mixed media pictures, titled ‘The Geographer’. The Geographer in question is my father who died in 1997, aged 69. He was a professor at the University of Lodz, in the department of Cartography. My father and I were very close. As a teenager, I remember spending many evening hours working on my photographs in the University’s dark room, while he was catching up on checking his students’ work.

During the war, when he was just 16 years old, he was taken to Germany and put in the work camp. He escaped and walked all the way back home, to a little village in central Poland. It took him many weeks. My brave father, a teenager, walked at night and slept during the day, always hidden from view, often in cemeteries. The place of the dead, the cemetery, gave him safety and comfort. 

I inherited many old maps from my father’s collection. In the ‘The Geographer’ triptych I used the fragments of an old German war time map of the area we come from, where the names of Polish villages are accompanied by German names. My work is still in progress. With it I hope to express that Death did not separate us. My father is still with me and he will always be in my heart.



  1. This is such a beautiful post, we have 'sanitised' death to the point that many of us no longer connect with it, but it obviously comes to us all. Death is not the end of a relationship but it does create change. Your father sounds such a remarkable man and your art is a fitting tribute - Wonderful.

  2. Thank you very much Josie! I will be posting more about this exhibition in April.
    By the way, I love your blog, especially the post about Decoupage Eggs :)