© 2019 The Rookery Artists' Collective

by The Rookery

Claire Callow

The Grief Process and how I learned to draw an Acanthus Leaf

This series is inspired by the Neo-classical architecture of Brompton cemetery, where stylized acanthus decorate the capitals of its Corinthian columns. These leaves are a traditional emblem for mourning, as they originally grew in Greek and Roman graveyards. 

More recently, the psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler Ross theorized a set of emotions for the grief process. While an individual's experience is not linear or predictable, having a summary outline can be reassuring, both in containing and acknowledging its transitory nature. 

This work fuses my own understanding of the key stages, with an instructional diagram for drawing the increasingly elaborate leaf (originally by wood carver, Mary May). 

The two ideas are brought together by the use of a symbolic and celebratory colour palette, painted in a heraldic style.