lIlustrating The Crossing
by Fergus Dunnet
Over the past year, while I've been drawing cardboard coffins and cold buffets, funeral directors, rabbis, monumental masons, caterers, viking urns, floral wreaths, mushroom suits, heart-shaped gravestones, teddy bear ash-holders, bicycle hearses, pubs, crematoriums and eco burial sites, I have come to see funerals, and death in a completely new light.
A funeral can be a really meaningful and helpful event at a difficult time. It is the celebration of a life, for the people who live on after that life has ended. And the illustrations for The Crossing have come to reflect that sense of life to me. They are a collection of the people, places and objects which surround a life. They represent the many different shapes and sizes of funeral you can have, and the impact your funeral has on the way your life and death will be experienced and remembered by your loved ones.
The illustrations themselves are a mix of pen drawing and digital colouring and texturing. The pen drawings focus on details, which I hope help to suggest the differences in experience when deciding, for example, whether to have a sit down meal or a picnic at your funeral. The colour pallet uses autumnal reds, oranges and yellows, with the marks and textures of paint and pastel layered up on top.
Each illustration took around three hours, and as a result of this time spent daydreaming about funerals, something has changed in the way I think about death. I think it happened because every now and then as I was drawing, I'd consider what I might like for my own funeral and in imagining my funeral repeatedly I eventually just accepted it. I'm not sure I'd ever really thought about my own death in a normal way before then. But now that I have, death in general has lost a lot of it's potency. I think about death quite often now, quite comfortably, along side thoughts of life.
I hope that The Crossing can provide the starting point for others to consider their funerals, and death in general, as part of the story of their lives.
How do you want your loved ones to experience and remember your death?