The Grief series is a quiet rebellion. It is a polite intervention. It aims to create a space where notions of bereavement or grief can be discussed openly. After the outpouring of grief at Princess Diana’s death, it was suggested that Britain had begun to embrace a culture of tears. But the tears I see are on screen, and are provoked by reality TV evictions and failures. These tears are a commodity. They keep the ratings up, help Mr Cowell's bank balance and provide a moving ending to each show. They are Oscar nominated tears. They are not the complicated, messy tears of real life. They are an extreme response to the everyday rather than an everyday response to extreme situations. People are just as afraid of the live expression of tears as they ever were.
The Grief Series is an attempt to make the expression of grief less scary, for the bereaved and those surrounding or supporting the bereaved. I use my own experiences of bereavement, of course I do, but it is not just about me. I don’t want the work to be a form of public therapy for me and yet I am not resistant to the possibility of therapeutic by-products, as long as the work remains open and relevant.
I hope that by making space to think, feel and talk our way round grief, with other artists and participants/audiences, that there may be positive emotional and social outcomes. It is about reaching people. The interdisciplinary nature of the work recognises that to reach different people you need to use different forms, put the work in a variety of contexts: A theatre, a public space, on the web, or in a gallery to allow people to express grief in different ways. It might at times be confusing. It might be funny or sad or frustrating. It will be bold and it is a call to arms…in the politest way possible.
The Grief Series is a sequence of seven projects by Leeds-based artist Ellie Harrison. Each instalment is a collaboration with another artist working in a different field including performance, design, photography, installation and sculpture.
The Grief Series is multi-sensory with audiences being engaged as participants and co-creators. Informed by rigorous research with academics, clinicians and the public, the series aims to create safe spaces where notions of grief and bereavement can be discussed and expressed openly through a range of empowering creative practice.