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Dying Arts: The Etiquette of Grief

Chris Satori


Lancaster Arts are hosting a number of art and performance events in May which explore our attitudes to death during the national ‘Dying Matters Awareness Week’ 8-14 May 2017.

The Etiquette of Grief

Artist Ellie Harrison returns to Lancaster with her solo show The Etiquette of Grief on Monday 8 May and The Crossing on Tuesday 9 May.  Both of which form part of Ellie’s Grief Series: a sequence of projects using a seven stage Grief Model from psychology as the starting point.  Each instalment is a collaboration with another artist working in a different field including performance, photography, installation and sculpture.

The Etiquette of Grief is a heart-wrenching and heart-warming performance exploring the wide-ranging emotions that follow an overwhelming loss and the ways in which grief touches us all.  The show asks questions about the nature of public grief, often witnessed when a famous figure dies: does the British ‘stiff upper lip’ help or inhibit how we deal with our emotions, and is there such a thing as a collective identity that effects how we grieve? Ellie takes audiences through the sometimes uncomfortable, but also funny and peculiar, rituals of mourning, offering coping mechanisms, moral support, a little musical accompaniment and even a large splash of port.

The Etiquette of Grief will be held at the Peter Scott Gallery on Monday 8 May at 8pm with tickets costing between £7-£5.  Following the performance there will be a free panel discussion.

The Crossing

The following afternoon, Tuesday 9 May, Ellie asks ‘How would you like to be remembered?’  This question, and others, form part of The Crossing - a conversation about the different ways we can say goodbye. Drop in and meet Ellie between 2-5pm and you will be guided through a series of questions to help you to imagine your ideal funeral. The answers to these questions are then recorded in a specially created booklet, which can be customised using a series of beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. (There is no charge for this drop-in event.)

Alice Booth, Creative Producer at Lancaster Arts said: "Death is a subject that, for obvious reasons, we find really difficult to deal with and talk about, particularly in this country - only 30% of us in this country have actually written a will.  What Ellie’s work The Crossing, does, is give us a creative way to think about how to say goodbye… and she is a fantastic guide”


If you’re visiting the campus for either of Ellie’s performances you can also take part in the free audio art work Woodland which runs on Monday 8 (10am - 5pm) and Tuesday 9 May (10am - 4pm). Created by artists Rebecca French and Andrew Mottershead Woodland offers a meditative and surprisingly calming self portrait of what happens to our bodies after death experienced whilst lying in the campus woodland at Lancaster University.  The audio event is free lasting just 20 minutes. Register your interest at the Peter Scott Gallery.

For more information, on all these events, visit or call the box office on 01524 594151.