Mortal Essence is a (now online) exhibition of British women’s art that focuses on death – but is not as morbid as it sounds, as the artworks defy the traditionally negative view of death, purporting instead one of a positive and natural life cycle.
The Facebook page, where the art is posted, proposes an aim of conveying ‘an understanding that our world is a single interconnected organism’, and of helping us ‘accept the intrinsic nature of our essence both in life and death’.
The art definitely succeeds in these aims: the imagery of taxidermied animals is illuminated in bright colours, for example in the creator ‘Miss Leanne’s’ Iridescent Connection, where luminous blue butterflies link together by their wings, echoing the cycle of life that brings them to being.
The natural world abounds as motifs of skulls and flowers come together. A particularly good piece that bridges the gap between life and death is Jodie Yeung’s Harlequin, where the motif of Ying-Yang is imagined with fractured black and white bones. This does well to represent the dichotomous binary that humans draw up between death and life – such that these artworks seek to abolish, and instead bring life and death together in harmony.
The exhibition would be enhanced by a better platform than Facebook, but it is understandable in the pandemic that quick decisions require the complete transformation of cultural projects into entirely different affairs.
Furthermore, the online platform does facilitate elements of exhibition that are normally lost in person – for example, a video of the process of tattoo-sketching by Hume Artistry Tattooing. The platform of Facebook may also aid the selling of the pieces, supporting the artists involved at a time where local and national support for artists is so necessary, yet so hard to find.
Explore and purchase these pieces here: https://www.facebook.com/events/170649271049616
Image: courtesy of Mortal Essence