Remembering lost souls

Cemetery window and flowers

Story by Victoria Smith | Photos by Frankie Currie, Victoria Smith and Richard Belbin

I became artist in residence at Burngreave Cemetery Mortuary Chapel in the summer of 2014, the weekend the Tour de France whizzed by. Lois Palframan was ending her residency and suggested I might like to apply.

The committee accepted my application and, inspired by the carvings on the cemetery headstones and by Lois’s excellent advice to ‘make it personal’, I began work on what turned out to be a large installation for All Souls Day, 2nd November. This work was a celebration of the lives of my dad’s parents, family and ancestors.

I discovered that getting lost in the drift and flow of the work allowed me to examine the more difficult aspects of loss and grief in a gentle and meditative way.

The following Easter I created an interactive non-denominational Cemetery Blessing event facilitated and led by Rev. David Shaw of Upper Chapel, inviting cemetery visitors to celebrate the lives of their deceased relatives and ancestors. This proved enjoyable and was well attended.

‘Remembrance: a curated bereavement’ is the title I have given to the space I occupy in the chapel. It is filled with things found and things given, and is a constantly evolving work in progress. Most recently, I have taken an interest in working with glass. I love doing what I do here.

The chapel is open to visitors each Sunday:

November – March, 12noon – 2pm.

April – October, 11am – 3pm

Not all of my work is displayed during winter