After her father died in 2016, artist Lanson Moore went to collect his ashes and was shocked by what she found.
“I had never had a close relative die,” says Moore, who lives in Yorkshire, UK.
“I was expecting him to be in an urn and he wasn't. He was in a plastic green tub. It was very disrespectful. It really shocked me - how could somebody be put into that?”
Disturbed by the experience, Moore decided to create a piece of artwork to dedicate to her father with an added personal twist: the artist wished to add her father’s ashes to the painting.
Ashes to artwork
After Moore had collected her father’s ashes, her family divided them and used them to preserve his memory in their own ways. Her sister had the ashes made into jewellery. Her brother put them into a plant. As for Moore, she scattered them near the family home.
“It didn’t feel quite right for me,” she says.
Moore’s father had always been supportive of her art, a long-term passion which she returned to in 2020 after the birth of her son.
After starting out at her kitchen table, Moore soon won competitions and gained acclaim, now working on projects from a studio in the town of Wakefield.
“It kind of started to fall into place, it felt like home, it felt like returning to my true self,” she says.
The artist describes her work as "intuitive" and has been inspired by her travels over the years in South America. She regularly does wedding commissions, creating abstract work based on the couple's honeymoon destinations.
This kind of work fits into her latest venture.
‘Abu In Port Lligat’ is a painting Moore created in her father’s memory. It is an abstract interpretation of a landscape painting of Port Lligat, a village in Costa Brava, painted by Salvador Dali.
“It was my Dad’s favourite place and his favourite artist,” says Moore.
The work features many personal elements that relate to her father: a boat that he always wanted, red for his favourite drink (red wine), and blue, his favourite colour. A gold line that runs through the painting signifies his life line, or possibly the new journey he’s on after death. This is what the ashes will eventually be bound to.
The artist is cognisant of the reaction her work may get in some quarters.
“I get that for some people it is too much,” she says.
Grieving through art
Although Moore was happy with her idea, the process is easier said than done with the practicalities of binding the ashes to the painting (which now hangs in the home of a relative) proving to be something of a challenge.
After extensive research revealed several others working in this field, Moore managed to secure funding from Arts Council England to help her with her task.
“That funding has allowed me to start working in mediums of art that I don’t already,” says the artist.
She is now going to undertake 10 commissions, with others who want to follow the same path to help with their grief.
“They can go through the journey of immortalising their loved ones into art. It will be a unique piece of art they can keep for future generations,” Moore says.
“If you look at all the different options to live your life in a different way, but no one seems to plan for after that, it is left for other people to make that choice. That can be hard. I want to put choices out there.”
Moore's project has given her much in the way of healing and that’s something she wants to share with others.
“I went on a personal journey as well in terms of my grieving process,” says Moore.
“I felt my dad was there with me on that journey. It was a way for me to be close to him again.”