A collective marking of loss in a world connected by water
Sunday December 20th 2020
At a shoreline in Dumfries and Galloway or wherever you are in the world
“A wonderfully imaginative and insightful response to the pandemic and at the same time a re-imagining of it. It is the seas and rivers that connect us – in joy and in sorrow.’” Professor David Clark, founder of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group.
Shoreline to Shoreline was a public art event that invited individuals, friends and families to travel to the waters edge on the same day; to stand on a beach or a rocky shoreline as the sea receded to the horizon to remember and mark or memorialise loss. Some invited others to join them on the other side of the ocean, two parts of a family or two friends connected together by water. A moment of reconnection in a world connected by water. Always in motion, always connected.
Please visit the event website for further information: https://shorelinetoshoreline.com
The many forms of loss…
Individual Loss : COVID-19 has imposed many restrictions on the way families can be with loved ones especially at the end of their lives. New rules have been made that impact on the traditional ways that we mark a persons passing and on the ways in which we can be together and support each other. This has had a profound impact upon mourning and grieving, leading to feelings of guilt, helplessness and loss.
How can we deal with the feelings of incompleteness that many people are feeling in grief or when they feel they can’t be present to support families through this time? Can we mourn and remember together but also remain safely separate? Can we stand as individuals and yet feel part of a wider community of grief? Can we grieve without touching?
Collective Loss: Feelings of grief are also present in other ways at this time. Covid has brought other losses; loss of the comfort of touch, loss of family support, loss of jobs, loss of freedoms… these losses have significant impacts on us as individuals, on our relationships and our communities and many people are experiencing a deep sense of heaviness and sadness. Many of us have also have become more aware of the impact of human activity on the planet, of the acceleration of loss of species and biodiversity and of the climate crisis.
Shoreline to Shoreline offered a context and space for contemplation and reflection, a moment to acknowledge and mark loss and to reconnect with family, friends, ourselves and the planet.
“In a year where we have lost our ability to mark events with ritual and celebration this was a beautiful way to pause, apart but together, and focus our attention.” Participant
Shoreline to Shoreline was a creative response to the challenges of our changing world as part of Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges work for Atlas Pandemica. See more information below. Shoreline to Shoreline was conceived in collaboration with Hanna Casement.
“Thank you for this most wonderful encouragement to join with my family remembering my husband, just passed away. I wrote his name in the sand and watched as the incoming tide washed it smooth. I was in Portobello, Scotland and was joined by family thousands of miles away in Puget Sound in Olympia, Washington, in San Francisco Bay and also in Seattle. Shoreline to Shoreline was a beautiful and healing experience for us all. Thank you.” Participant
Please also see this article by Professor David Clarke, founder of the End of Life Studies Group at Glasgow University: https://davidgrahamclark.net/2021/05/28/responding-to-loss-in-the-time-of-covid-the-shoreline-to-shoreline-project/
In these times we need to find new ways to remember.
As part of their work for Atlas Pandemica, Robbie and Jo also produced ‘Marking Loss’, a book that responded to the limitations that the Covid-19 restrictions placed on the ways in which people could gather together to mark a loved ones passing.
There are 40 ideas to be used, modified or for inspiration for ways to mark loss during the restrictions imposed by Covid. Now restrictions are lifted the ideas can be used with larger groups of family and friends.
The ‘Marking Loss’ booklets went to all Funeral Directors around Dumfries and Galloway and were offered free to bereaved relatives. Palliative Care Scotland have added them to their website as a downloadable resource here
The book can be downloaded as PDF below.
Cafe at the End of the World
On 22nd March 2022 Robbie and Jo hosted an event with interdisciplinary researcher Joe Wood for tea and cakes and a discussion about how we might respond to the end of things.
20 people from a wide range of interests came together to discuss how Covid has changed our view of how we live and if we can use what we have learnt about grief and loss to explore and respond to the climate emergency and the fragility of the systems we live within. When we are faced with widespread species extinction, extreme weather events and loss of habitats and homes, are there new ways of thinking that might give us a more meaningful basis for our actions? We looked at whether the holistic outlook of the hospice movement and ideas like ‘total pain’ and a ‘palliative present’ could be used to frame wider environmental challenges in our terminally ill ecosystems and provide a framework to respond to anthropocentrism, hyper-individualism, relentless economic growth and the cult of technology.
This was one of a series of events to launch the Limited Edition Atlases created by Atlas Pandemica. https://thestove.org/atlas-pandemica/maps/
Above : Limited edition set of Alas Pandemica maps
Above. Exhibition of Atlas Pandemica maps at The Stove, Dumfries. March 2022
‘Shoreline to Shoreline‘ and ‘Marking Loss‘ are Robbie and Jo’s work for Atlas Pandemica.
Atlas Pandemica consists of 10 creatively led investigations, each exploring a theme highlighted by life during the Covid pandemic in Dumfries and Galloway. Each investigation is designed to encourage innovative approaches in charting the changes brought about by Covid, and to navigate the way forward into a more hopeful and shared future. (June 2020 – April 2021) As part of Atlas Pandemica, Robbie and Jo have been commissioned to research and respond to the impact of COVID on dying and grieving. Robbie and Matt Baker from The Stove Network are Co-Curating Atlas Pandemica which is focussing on Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
Robbie presented at ‘Caring, Creativity and Connectedness during COVID-19’ an Arts Health Scotland online event on 17th November. Blog here https://vhscotland.org.uk/robbies-blog-atlas-pandemica-maps-to-a-kinder-world/
The Atlas Pandemica artists:
Joanne McKay focused on the history of pandemics in Dumfries
Annie Wild looked into the giving and receiving of care
Karen Campbell did a residency with Dumfries & Galloway Council
Emma Jayne Park explored local decision making;
Mark Zygadlo looked at the river Nith and it’s communities
Peter Smiths work explored the rituals of repair
T.S. Beall documented the unheard voices in Dumfries
Jenna Macrory shared conversations about difference
The Homegrown Team focused on bringing the digital into public space.
Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges focused on grief and loss.