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Finding the comedic side of death: Art exhibition centred around grief to open in Sheffield

An art exhibition is set to open in Sheffield to encourage people to engage in positive conversations about grief and bereavement.

The exhibition titled, “It’s Okay, You Can Laugh”, will be held on 22 May at Trafalgar Warehouse in Sheffield to encourage discussions surrounding grief after a year of so much loss to the pandemic.

The founder and curator of the exhibition, Sophie Shukla, 22, said: “The topic of death is often treated with pity and it leaves people feeling awkward, never knowing what to say. It becomes an uncomfortable experience for both sides of the party.”

Miss Shukla lost both of her parents at a young age and wants the exhibition to find a comedic side of death as well as open up conversations in a positive and friendly atmosphere.

She added: “This exhibition was produced during peak COVID time and was seen as an opportunity to allow both people who have lost someone and people who haven’t to feel more comfortable discussing the topic of death as it is something everyone goes through.”

There will be different types of mixed media to make up the exhibition, focusing on the topic of grief. Each piece will represent to the individual what their grief means to them, including pieces in video format as well as oil paintings and poetry.

One of the artists, Lai Lam Fave is a Singaporean born, London based artist working with photography, performance and installation.

Her practice explores human interactions within the multi-facets of society, pushing the boundaries between performance and reality. Fave’s work highlights our connections towards one another, questioning the genuineness of our thoughts and actions, laughing at the absurdity to search for meaning in our existence.

Fave said: “It was exciting being a part of this exhibition, as it was so closely related to the art that I produce. A friend from university sent me a poster to this open call as my recent performance, “Birthday Bash” revolves around the themes of comedy and grief. It was a tribute to my grandpa who passed away the morning after celebrating my sixteenth birthday.”

Miss Shukla said: “The exhibition doesn’t just focus on the death of people, it is loss in any form. I feel like everyone in some way is grieving for something during the pandemic, for things they have lost and missed out on, even just a hug from a family member. This will be a good opportunity to discuss that sense of loss.”

Without graphic designer, Max Armstrong, 23, Miss Shukla said the exhibition would not have been possible.

Mr Armstrong said: “I’ve really enjoyed giving my time to create the promotional graphics and help advertise the exhibition. I think the subject matter it explores is highly relevant and important right now. Seeing how the past year has really taken its toll on the arts, it’s great to see exhibitions like this coming back and existing in physical spaces again.”

Tickets will be £3 and need to be pre-booked with only a limited number available at the door, and 20% of proceeds will be donated to The Good Grief Trust.

The exhibition will be COVID secure with social distancing measures in place to adhere to the government guidance at the time of the event. There will be a one-way system and hand sanitiser at the door and there will be some seating available.

Merchandise will be available to buy at the exhibition, as well as a bar and a DJ playing disco music.

Tickets for the exhibition can be purchased here.

Written by Liv Hill

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