REST A sound and visual installation

The celebration of life and the loss of a life still celebrated, conceived and led by artist Sofie Layton.

Research and development for an arts collaboration with bereaved and pre-bereaved parents created in partnership with SLOW (Surviving the Loss of Your World), Graeae Theatre Company and Richard House Hospice, London. September - December 2014.

Over 12 weeks Sofie explored different creative processes, which traced, marked and recorded experiences/memories of the group’s children. Together we drew, embossed, screen-printed our children’s impressions and transformed photographs. We stitched and shared stories.

One mother commented that the shared process of embroidery was: ‘rather similar to grief itself – slow – and allowing us to talk, bond, weep, laugh as we progressed our ideas and produced something that reflected our children’.

The workshops culminated in a two-day installation with a sound-scape created from the mothers’ writings, with the stories also signed in BSL.

Audience member: "I enjoyed at first visiting the installations. My first impressions were of the beauty of the whole, and then I was drawn to the individual ‘shrines’ and the embroidery. I loved how they moved against the stillness. The sound-scape added to the experience, and I was moved at times to tears. Listening and watching the stories added a whole layer. I am not familiar with sign language – it really helped me to ‘see’ the stories and feel them."

Hospice in the Community Manager: "I was struck by the wonderful variety of images and the exquisite construction of all the work. So many individual stories of relationships brought together. I was drawn back several times to the chicken wishbone mandala as an image of nourishment, care and love. An image of sustaining life in a very tangible way, and a striking image of the cycle or wheel of life."

"What other language could one use but the arts to give expression to such sweetness of love and loss?"

The REST R&D was the first stage of a much larger creative enquiry exploring end of life and bereavement.

Sound: Jules Maxwell
Photography: Stephen King

Supported by Arts Council England and The Blavatnik Family Foundation