Emily McGuire

Beauty in Death

1-22 August, Tue-Sat 10am-4pm

Upstairs Gallery (entry corner Pakenham and Leake St)

Meet the Artist: Saturday 8 August 2020, 2pm-4pm
‘Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
From my heart to yours
From this window, like the moon, I keep sending news secretly’.

Emily McGuire presents the first part of a series of artworks on death for this exhibition, Shroud, featuring paintings and a prayer wall. The paintings are the basis for a series of death shrouds and will be translated to cloth, as if for ritual wrapping of a body for burial. These silk and muslin death wraps are integral to the development of a later installation: 4 bodies, 8 silks, 1000 prayers.

Emily’s exploration of various aspects of death encompasses: finding beauty in death; the powerful ground that can emerge from pain; the visceral and important human rituals and the symbolism of caring for our loved ones in death. She considers our connection to the body (both our own, and in relationship to other); our relationship to mortality, time, space, materials and the sensory body; and how humans can experience many symbolic death cycles through life - which in turn trigger a shedding and renewal. Themes of the origin and transmutation of form, the materiality of death, and how we navigate life and death through time and space and also internally, are a part of her discourse.

Our human relationship to sound, space and materials provide context. Emily’s interest in the rituals of death stems from her background in concrete research and study of certain Egyptian burial chambers from the Great Pyramids, which were constructed to generate a resonant frequency within the space. The chambers were used for ritual chanting over the sarcophagus to honour the dead. Ritual was amplified through the materials, form and frequencies within the space.

Emily is interested in people’s relationship to sound, materials, space and sensory life, and how materials affect the body. Her research interests include the effect of sound and light on cell formation and silica-activated concretes.

Emily’s view is that death and pain can be a powerful energy to utilise in life, both for connections within the self and with each other. Possibly a worthy reflection in 2020.

These works form the basis of Emily’s interpretations and will later be transferred to a series of silk and muslin death shrouds, as the second iteration of her ‘death’ installations.

Prayer Wall
People are invited to add to the prayer wall, by writing on a strip of cloth – a word, idea, or statement, signed or unsigned. These will be gathered and documented for the series.

The Sensory Body
People are invited to sit in silence within the exhibition space, and be aware of their own body and sensory or emotional response to death; and contribute words or thoughts to the prayer wall; or book a time with the artist to discuss the work.

About the artist
Emily McGuire is a multi-disciplinary Artist investigating the parallels of art, life, death and transformation in her current death series. Shroud explores how people find beauty and power in endings and may experience the power of art to generate new states of being. Her careful arrangement of contrasting elements and materials – often incorporating painting, textiles, and objects – involves a philosophical, practical and poetic approach to her work, which often ties back in to what it means to be human and connect. The Artist has a background in Architecture, specialising in silica-activated concretes.

Images from left to right:

Resonance (2020)
synthetic polymer on canvas
91cm x 122cm

Dematerialisation (2020)
watercolour on canvas
91cm x 122cm

The Beautiful Abyss (2020)
synthetic polymer and thread on canvas
91cm x 122cm