The poem below was written by Mark Halliday (part of a set of five) to accompany my project The Memorandum Series – a set of photographic works expressing my grief process after my mother died.
What I’ve found through exhibiting art that tackles death is that it gives people permission to talk about it. Creating a place – even a temporary one – where death is the subject allows people to speak about their experiences, anxieties, fears.
Putting my own emotions ‘on display’ through my art let others connect with theirs and even the simple act of writing a comment in the exhibition visitors book was cathartic for some.
If we can find ways to create places where we can talk more about what it’s like to face death / be with someone who is dying, maybe we can all help one another through the simple act of empathy. Together we can learn the language we need to understand and process death.
My words died with her,
my tongue now
the steady floor of a cave
rubbed smooth by grief
that burst through a shock- jammed throat.
A migrant in a new land.
My stories of her life
and words for her death
wriggle illegibly somewhere,
waiting for a language to be learned.
(Mark sadly died of cancer six months after The Memorandum Series exhibition)