BBC TV: The Art of Looking Death in the Face

Feb 7, 2013 | 0 comments

BBC Michael Smith

The BBC’s Michael Smith

“How do we begin to talk about death? Death doesn’t answer back. The Grim Reaper’s not big on conversation.”

That’s how reporter Michael Smith started a piece on art and death on The Culture Show on BBC TV. He continued, “Death, after all is a guess, a great unknown, the one blank canvas that awaits us all. How do we imagine the unimaginable?”

He visits a long-established funeral home and the Wellcome Collection, known for exploring the connections between medicine, art and life, which is opening an exhibition about death.

Memorial rings from the Victorian era

Memorial rings from the Victorian era

Commemorating death can be more expensive than living. In the Victorian era, wealthy people were expected to entertain with food and drink, as well as provide gifts.

The story shows a collection of memorial rings that families would give to certain important people. Someone could spend an estimated $25,000 on jewelry alone!

A new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection looks at morbid art – a sculpture of a triumphant Death carrying a bow and arrow, a two-sided portrait of a person on one side and a skull on the other, etchings with examples of life and death intersecting.

“Death is the one great democratic experience,” says Smith. This is a very poetic five-minute meditation on life, death and art. Check it out!

A Good Goodbye