Bristol art exhibition helps people talk about grief

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Olivia's art tells "My Story" in storyboard form on how she found out her dad had died

An exhibition of artworks submitted by bereaved families has been designed to help talk about loss and grief.

The #Lost4Words show at City Hall in Bristol is being hosted by childhood bereavement charity Winston's Wish and Grief Encounter, South West.

"We know through years of experience it is helpful to share grief," said Dom Smith from Winston's Wish.

A work of art is "a conversation starter" that helps friends who "may not know what to say," Mr Smith said.

Olivia, 12, submitted a storyboard on "how I found out that my dad died".

She and her mum came to live in the UK with her dad's sister, who was able to tell her, her dad had killed himself, because her mum "could not find the words" and "didn't want to ruin my life".

"Now I know how he died and my life isn't ruined," Olivia said.

Image source, Julie Heaton
Image caption,
Julie Heaton spent hours creating a stitched replica of a Bristol car engine for the exhibition which she says is "obsessive in its detail".

Julie Heaton's husband Carl took his own life 10 years ago when their sons were eight and 10 years old.

The family, from Bristol, was supported by the Rainbow Centre, now Grief Encounter.

Image source, Julie Heaton
Image caption,
We Should Smile More by Julie Heaton is a stitched drawing of her husband Carl's camera which he loved.

It was an "absolute complete and utter shock", said Mrs Heaton.

The stitched art she has submitted was pinned on to loft boards and washed with water to remove the soluble backing "ensuring all control was lost as the threads found their own place".

"It's both masculine and feminine as I had to be after Carl's death," said Mrs Heaton.

It had involved "hours and hours" of "meticulous attention to detail" reflecting the way "I obsessively tried to control every element of my life" afterwards.

The exhibition runs for a week at City Hall but will then move entirely online and be open to submissions from around the UK.

"Wherever you are you will be able to access photos of the exhibits and read the narratives people wanted to share about grief," said Mr Smith.

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