Contemporary Design

Till Death Do Us Together by Sesilia Pirttimaa

Death does not part us, it unites us. We all die eventually. Ten hand-built raw clay vases have been left in nature to fall apart, disintegrate and dissolve into the environment, symbolizing the death of loved ones. The vases have been photographed daily to reveal their decomposition. The artist has not had to face the death of a close relative and the resulting grief that is inevitably coming. With this artwork, she wants to prepare for it and address the topic she fears.
ceramic pots and vases in outdoors next to sea

Hand building is a very bodily and physical way of working with clay. I chose hand building as the technique of my work because it is very meditative and calming to me. This way of working allows me to focus on the topic I want to address during the personal exploration.

Repetitive routine-like making of pottery creates a sense of security. In a safe environment and state of mind, it is easier to deal with challenging issues, such as the death of loved ones in this instance. I worked from home to feel secure enough for this project.

I spent several weeks building these raw clay vases. I built vases from different clay bodies and soil I had collected from the place where I would eventually take the vases to break down. The sizes of the objects and different types of clay used in this project represent the diversity of people and their life experiences. Death can come unexpectedly at any stage of life, to anybody.

Letting go of the vases I made and leaving them in nature was difficult and sensitizing for me. Some of the vases symbolize my own family and relatives. The place became sacred to me. Everyday walking to this place was important to me and it prepared me for real loss and grief. Seeing and documenting my artifact to disintegrate by nature and weather conditions was somehow releasing. Learning to let go and accept it was the major thing I learned during  this project.

ceramics outside in winter

Materials: Finnish red clay, black clay, recycled clay

All photos: Sesilia Pirttimaa

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