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FREE Exhibition
Saturday 12th October
Christ Church Frome
All Day
'A Graceful Death' 

Portraits and words from the end of life.
Antonia Rolls

"I am an artist and a soul midwife, living and working in Bognor Regis. "From the earliest age, I knew I was an artist but soul midwifery was a terrible and wonderful gift given to me through loss when I was in my forties. As a child, I believed I was a fairy. It gave me a door into magical, wonderful, imaginative worlds. After university, I became a portrait artist, had my children, battled as many of us do with divorce, single parenthood and money. After ten years of struggle I met the most wonderful man, fell in love, and within eighteen months, he was dead. This marked the the next phase of my life. From his death came the A Graceful Death exhibition, my training as a soul midwife, and my work with end of life. With Steve's death came the loss of the fairy too, and for a while, all was dark. Twelve years later, and having been widowed again, I have a deeper love for life, a growing awareness of the mysteries of living and dying, and a stronger sense of what I am here to do. It has been hard and glorious learning how to be a soul midwife, learning over the past twelve years with many people who have taught me how to work with their dying. I now work both as an artist and a soul midwife, and the A Graceful Death exhibition is a wonderful marriage of the two.


As Steve was dying, I painted him. It was the only way to deal with what I was seeing. I painted his dying and the day of his death, with no idea of what or why I was doing it. Two years in my studio gave me enough work to exhibit, and so I did. Calling it A Graceful Death, I held the first exhibition in my home and wondered if anyone would come to see paintings of someone else's dead and dying partner. People did come, with their own stories, and I saw that I was not alone. I was asked to meet and paint other people who were facing the end of life, and to paint them too. Steve's story was told, and other people began to tell theirs. I asked my sitters Who are you? and What do you want to say? The result is over fifty paintings, written interviews, video interviews, a book, music written especially for the exhibition, poetry and prose sent in by people moved to add their words to the exhibition. The most powerful thing about all the people in the exhibition is just how ordinary they all are. They wanted to tell their stories and add their images so that we could see that it was OK, this is how they were doing their dying, and when we come to do ours, we remember they managed it and take comfort. "

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