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Death: A Self-Portrait Exhibition

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Exploring Our Future

Winter can be a morbid time, with short days, grey skies, and sometimes harsh conditions, it is no wonder we can get gloomy. Just in case you wanted to any morose feelings you may have why not visit the Welcome Collection, which is exhibiting a less than welcoming subject: Death.

The museum's exhibit, Death: A Self-Portrait is showcasing some three hundred works from collections studying our attitudes toward death. The collection includes art, historical artefacts, and scientific specimens from around the world.

Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer, and Goya are on display alongside anatomical drawings, war art, and antique metamorphic postcards. You will also see human remains such as ancient Incan skulls and a chandelier made out of plaster cast bones.

Death can be a disturbing, macabre, and emotional transition, but it is an inevitable experience we will all one day face. Perhaps our obsession with death derives from our fear of the inescapable.

The exhibition is free to visit and is open until the 24th February. There will also be a number of events accompanying the exhibition:

16th January, 2.30pm-4.30pm

Frontliners: Funeral

This is a talk given by the oldest funeral directors in London's East End. T Cribb and Sons's history goes back to the 19th century, and they still implement old traditions such as street processions using a horse-drawn carriages. Learn about how they help families deal with grief, and how they have adapted to catering for the city's growing multi-cultural backgrounds.

Tickets become available from the 4th January.

19th January, 10.30am-8pm

Death on Screen

A continuous stream of back-to-back art films centring on the subject of death. Tickets become available from the 4th January.

23rd January, 5.45pm-8.30pm

The Thing Is...Death

This free talk explores the burial customs and rituals of different cultures, and looks at our attitude towards death when it does not involve people from our own circle.

Tickets become available from the 4th January.

1st February, 7pm-9pm & 2nd February 10.30pm-5.30pm

What Makes A Good Death?

This two-day symposium looks at what it means to have a good death. Historically, a good death involved dying bravely in battle, as was the case with the Romans, but most of us today would consider the best way to die is painlessly in our sleep. Speakers will explore the history, and philosophy of death to find out what 'a good death' really means.

Tickets are £30 for the two days and can be booked by calling 44 (0)20 7611.
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Why? Something to your spirits?
When: Until 24th Feb
Phone: 44 (0)20 7611
Where: The Welcome Collection
Cost: Exhibit free, Symposium £30
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