Michele Coxon

Institution: University of Wolverhampton

Course: MA Ceramics

Title: Sculpture of My Mother

Description: Porcelain with ashes added to the clay

Inspiration:  Beaker

I was very close to my mother and stayed with her during her illness and death. It was an extremely emotional period and from the drawings I did of her while she was dying I created a sculpture of her. I added some of her ashes to the clay, the rest of her ashes were placed in a pot and buried on Broniarth Hill, in Powys, Wales. She lies next to her youngest daughter, my sister, Anna. On a recent trip to The British Museum, we were able to handle pottery beakers, some more than  4,000 years old. They are associated with burial sites and many were found to contain human ashes. These clay beakers are particularly powerful, knowing that they have been made by people to honour their dead. I found the fingerprint impressions in the clay incredibly moving and wondered if my ceramic work would ever survive that long!

From these early burials I began exploring the ways other cultures remember and bury their dead. During my stay with my mother my dog slept on her bed and I added him to the sculpture. He died later and is also buried on the hillside next to my mum.There is a treasure trove of artefacts that have been buried with the dead. In the pot containing my mother’s ashes I have placed her gold locket, which contains a photograph of her mother. I know that paper will not last and if the locket is dug up thousands of years later, the archaeologists will be clueless to its contents. But who knows, perhaps this Bronze Age project will survive and give them the missing information!