PART 1: THE ETIQUETTE OF GRIEF
“Breath-taking” - Yorkshire Post ****
“Ellie Harrison punctures the pomposities – personal and collective – associated with grieving. Her gently ironic delivery keeps you constantly guessing: is this serious or not? It's both.”- The Observer ****
'The Etiquette of Grief is a gem of a show. The material is smart, funny and touching, and performed with real conviction. Ellie Harrison is definitely one to watch." - Robert Pacitti, Spill Festival
'Etiquette of Grief is a remarkable piece of work. I have rarely felt an audience to be so "onside" - Threaded through this is a distinctive domestic/craft aesthetic, a gentle and inviting approach to audience participation, and Ellie's charming, and often commanding, performance presence.' - Alexander Kelly, Artistic Director, Third Angel
‘The show deals with potentially over sentimental issues in a sophisticated way.’
‘The writing is excellent, your timing was flawless.’
‘This is not a patronising or sentimental performance but a genuine connection to our humanity, flaws and all.’
‘It is refreshing to watch a performance about grief and death that is not awash with patronising sentiment.’
‘Etiquette of Grief struck to the core of my own grief having lost a close relative this year.’
'It was a pleasure to feel as an audience member that I was in 'safe hands' and could rely on 'Ellie' to take me wherever she was going. I have rarely seen an audience give itself to a performer so readily and so quickly. Our participation was a genuine reaction to Ellie's persona and her ability to put people at ease while requiring some response from them. Not easy and impressively achieved through humour and calm expectation rather than manipulation or cajoling. Somehow managed to eliminate the embarrassment of participation while maintaining embarrassment as a theme in the show. Clever.'
'I genuinely wanted to be brave enough to give you a standing ovation as I’ve never seen anything quite like it, either as meaningful or as funny'
Your show asked very important questions.
- Professor Mark Botz, Independent Scholar, Saba, Israel
I had been phobic of performance art due mostly to ignorance and a bad experience or two... The Etiquette of Grief changed my attitude. I found it to be creative, fresh, surprising and meaningful in a way that I don't think any other medium could have captured. Ellie created something powerful.
- Bonnie Settlage, American University, Cairo
It was a privilege to be part of your carefully crafted show. It was a seductive piece drawing us into examining the rightness of the English way of mourning and allowed me as a 'new worlder' to re-examine my roots. It had a number of stings in the tail that kept me laughing self-consciously.'
- Doctor Peter Bray, New Zealand
The way you prepared the stage not omitting one tiny detail, made me appreciate your sense of responsibility and respect towards your audience. It should not be easy to elicit response from an audience of such diverse cultures upon a topic which is quite England specific, but I saw that you have successfully overcome that difficulty. The way your audience actively participated in your performance is a sign of your ability to create an atmosphere that captures all those present and carries them to world of art where they can easily suspend disbelief and also being doubly aware can catch the nuances that create a tension between their real world and the new world you have move them into.
- Nazmi Ağıl, Faculty of social sciences and humanities, Koc University. Sariyer-Istanbul, Turkey
PART 4: THE UNFAIR
“What a brilliant idea, a great indoor attraction, something different. I didn’t realise I was angry, thanks so much.”
"Such a fantastic experience, truly impressive. Better than therapy! I got to work out some issues as I’m going through a rough time in my life. Thank you."
"Awesome! Loved it- What a great idea."
"This is a great experience for children and adults and shows children how to express their anger in different ways. 10/10 guys."
"Brilliant attention to detail- a space I wanted to spend a lot of time, and it felt robust, everything worked well. Wonderful hosts- I loved it!"
"A fantastic event. Lovely, friendly and welcoming host Thoughtful and useful games to play. Every festival should have an ‘unfair’ fair! Loved it!!"
"That was brilliant! Very cathartic, I hadn’t realised how stressed out I was when I came in! The triple-whammy of the ‘throne of resentment’, the ‘let off steam’ punching bag and the chance to ‘take a step back’ and reflect was excellent therapy. I am going away now feeling as though my soul has been unburdened. Seriously. Also, it looks beautiful. Thank you! "
"'Unfair’ is an amazing experience. I have been working years in shows doing workshops about anger, wish I had a place like this to express my rage and to take kids to play and think. Jude liked ‘transform’, because he likes" popcorn.
PART 2: THE RESERVATION
"The theatre is a good place to nurse broken heart. (....) The whole thing is cunningly set up, so that it is both playful and yet dignified, and the sharing is very much a two-way street: you feel emotionally open but not exposed. The warmth and authenticity of this encounter operates in direct tension with the surroundings – a safe space, but also a reminder of our mawkishness about death and a desire to keep grief hidden away." - by Lyn Gardner, The Guardian ****
Although it's very much a piece of art, I found it unexpectedly moving, and unexpectedly helpful too. It gave me exactly what I needed, even though I had no idea before I stepped into the performance that was what I wanted. - by Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
'First of all, I would say that I found the whole experience extremely powerful, and one that has lived with me since. I felt safe, and looked after, and very much enjoyed the sense of space I was given to reflect, remember and ultimately to share my memories.
I have rarely experienced such a generous show, it felt like I was genuinely being gifted time and space; there were no demands on me, and I could choose to give or not give, as I wished. Looking back it just underlines for me how powerful art can be at unlocking difficult things, at encouraging people to share and understand, and at making them comfortable doing so. It was truly a privilege to take part in this show – although it didn’t feel like I was taking part in someone’s show, it felt like it was mine. Thank you.' - Annabel Turpin, Arc Stockton
'I came to the piece because I thought it looked interesting, but actually discovered it was an experience I really needed. I thought the whole piece was very tastefully and very beautifully done. From the moment I met the first Elephant I felt like I was with people I could trust. When Ellie came in I loved the process. We talked for ages and I felt like I could have talked to her all night. I left the piece feeling unburdened and uplifted. I can’t thank you enough for this experience. It was wonderful and very moving.' - from Al Orange
It was great! Navigated the line between being really evocative, emotional, allowing me to remember all my experiences of bereavement, without getting dark and overwhelming.
Thank you so much. This is a very important work and deserves to continue for a very long time. There is not enough ‘space’ for this in our life.
Thank you, had a wonderfully delicate evening floating through memories at The Reservation.
Thank you Ellie and Jaye for the loveliest piece of art I’ve experienced in ages. And for cake!
PART 5: THE CROSSING
"THE CROSSING: Part 5 in The Grief Series acts as a gentle catalyst for prompting those important conversations we all need to have – with ourselves, with our friends and family – about our end of life choices.
Presented in its handsome box, it contains over a dozen items – each beautifully designed and produced with superb production values. We are invited to consider everything from the menu for our Wake to things we might choose to have done to dispose of our ashes. The graveyard pop up is intriguing.
Created and developed with considerable research and knowledge by Ellie Harrison and Matthew Bellwood, illustrated and designed by Fergus Dunnet, and with an impressive list of collaborators, it covers all bases. Multi-faith and multi-cultural, it serves as a really useful resource – intriguing and imaginative – to overcome reticence and taboo about death.
Every home, hospice, temple, mosque, synagogue, health centre, community centre, crematorium and church should have one available. It wouldn’t go amiss in the local pub either. " - Sue Gill and John Fox Dead Good Guides
We became acutely aware of the need to engage with people in different ways, especially around both supporting people to prepare for death as well as celebrating life.
The Crossing was one of the best examples I have seen of this within the UK, so much so that we used it as a basis for a discussion between the leadership of Adult Social Care, Public Health and Palliative Care and also promoted it to care homes and other organisations working with people near end of life. - Mick Ward Ex-Chief Officer for Innovation and Transformation, Adults and Health Leeds City Council
“it’s a lovely thing you’ve created.”
"The opportunity that The Grief Series has created in all of its work is a chance for people to be inspired in contained, supported spaces, to make connections. How they choose, or are able to see such connections is of course different for everyone. What has been invaluable for me, as a person with terminal illness, is the quality and variety in each artists work. Being told that I am approaching death has made me so much more receptive to life, and rather more forgiving of the events that have brought me where I am. The diverse work done by The Grief Series has been enormously helpful to me in normalising the idea of dying. I grow to imagine that the event itself might be quite familiar after all. "
PART 3: WHAT IS LEFT?
Charitable Services and Industry
“The biggest thing I took away was something huge about myself as a practitioner. I learnt there is still something to learn! I’ve been working closely with people for 24 years now and was pleased to get a nudge about myself. I loved the variety in people you interviewed and it was great to show, I believe there is no difference in how men and women talk about their grief, whatever their faith or culture- they were all chatty!
I thought it was great – well done and thank you for bring grief out into the open.” - Jane Driver at Just B Bereavement Services
“My favourite aspect of ‘What is Left?’ is the thought that has been put into the layout; Images and participants / audience members at the same equal level, comfy environment (for a gallery!). As a participant, it felt ‘right’ and as a spectator watching others listen - that was a work of art in itself.
I think all the photographs are stunning, I like the expression, the setting and the softness. They are incredibly humane and personal to the individual.”
“I enjoyed the sound / audio elements as they ‘humanised’ the text and pictures and made them relatable. A compelling, moving and powerful exhibition.”
PART 6: JOURNEY WITH ABSENT FRIENDS
"If I didn’t really know that art about death could be playful, stumbling upon opportunities for creative grief exploring and research Ellie Harrison, The Grief Series changed my mind. Only a few people can enter at a time.. there are doors and drawers to pull open, discover miniature diorama-like treasure troves, handwritten memories, vintage signs and objects with a surreal distant, dry sense of humour.. I loved how immersed I was in it. Confined spaces aren’t really my thing but the calm blue and the chic 50’s styling were comforting as well. It had the surrealdom of David Lynch and PunchDrunk theatre but with healing intentions. I think that making objects/ experiences / immersive art about people who may not be with us in physical form is a really cool and secular/ non-denominational way of processing emotions about grief. I just have to say this was so precious. You really created a calm yet curiosity and profound, multi-layered space. Amazing work!"
‘You have done a great job renovating this, and I’m a gypsy so that’s high praise!’ - Man who shook Matt’s hand
“Fantastic, beautiful and important” - School teacher with class in tow
“I’m a hairdresser and I listen to everyone else’s problems. It’s one year to the day that my mum died and it was great to have a moment. Thank you”- Hairdresser
“My friend just had someone close to her die and I don't know how to help, never know what to say to her. But now I can talk to her about this caravan and ask her where the memory of them is. So thanks - thats pretty cool.” - Delivery Driver, just passing