An exhibition by artist Molly Russell will feature an array of life-sized animal coffins.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Dearly Departed’, opens on 27 September at the Arch402 Gallery in Hoxton, London, and will feature coffins produced by Molly in collaboration with coffin maker JC Atkinson of Tyne & Wear.
Designed for giraffes, turbots, crocodiles, meerkats, anteaters and snakes, Molly’s innovative coffins form the centrepiece of a project that was initially founded upon her extraordinary family upbringing and relationship with her father, the late Ken Russell.
Molly spent her childhood surrounded by a myriad of animals being treated on human terms, with mice eating fresh avocado for supper, for example. “It was madness,” she remarked, “but it was a madness that was full of joy.”
The extravagant care for wildlife creatures soon turned to fear, as Molly’s experiences with animals and wider life became increasingly touch by death. After viewing the notorious funeral scene from her father’s film Mahler at just six years of age, Molly started suffering nightmares that evolved into phobias – namely death and snakes.
Therefore, Molly’s exhibition is a highly personal project that combines macabre humour with emotional and artistic urgency.
Molly continued: “Before my father and grandfather both died last year I had only ever been to animal funerals. The joy I’ve brought to the coffins was a way of dealing with these dark and fearful feelings I’d had.
“I was able to transform the darkness and morbidity into a playful, creative expression of fun and joy.”
Dearly Departed will also feature related material in other media, such as animation, photography, and a floral animal tribute.