Living with our Dead creates and produces projects fosters individual and community artistic expression, placing death as a significant part of life. The projects encourage personal and idiosyncratic expressions of how we live with our dead – our people, animals, flora and fauna. And through this, to understand what living with our dead may offer us as individuals and communities. The project is creating a new language and aesthetics of death and remembrance.
A Picnic among Friends 2010 was the first event of the Living with our Dead Project and has since grown into a yearly event. in 2014 Living with our Dead was incorporated into a Not For Profit Association.
I create ceremony for all of life’s significant events with over 20 years experience in performance and community cultural development. Responding to the diminished state of our contemporary rituals- especially funerals, I retrained as a civil celebrant and as a specialist consultant in death, dying and palliative care. In my practice, I am committed to making death knowledge personal, not professional and providing access to new and more inclusive choices for people who are coming to the end of their life, or supporting a family member or friend.
Living with our Dead is the platform from which creative, artistic and professional collaborations are generated that will hopefully, result in shifts within funeral practices and resurgence in death being seen as a vital and supportive part of our life.
Read more about Victoria and her work here. (PDF, 2.4MB)
Living with our Dead- A Picnic among Friends 2010-14
Creative Director and Ceremony – Victoria Spence
Co Director and Artist Curator – Clytie Smith
Dramaturg and Event Consultant – Fiona Winning
Production Manager and Rigger- Clytie Smith
Fabric Concept and Maker- Nicole Barakat
Site Specific Artists- Jacqueline Sherry, Paula De Prado, Gillian Christie, Brooke Morgan, Denise Litchfield, Jade Kemety, Mondo, Fiona Winning
Production Assistant – Corinne Sellers
Sound Technician- Vic McEwan
Musician- Annette Tesoriero
Choirs- members of Warren and Nothing without Belinda – conducted by Mark D’Astoli
The Ferntastics- children from Frncourt Public School conducted by Bonnie Kay
Choir co-0rdinator- Brian Brooks
Kids art table- Meredith O’Donnell
Helpers and Artists on the day- Janine Peacock, Matty Stegh, Buzz, David Sheridan, Honey Spence, Nancy
Ceremony Consultant- Zenith Virago
Florist- Olivia Downie from Belle Fleur
Community consultants and creators of Memory Tree elements- the Stitch & Bitch craft group from Ferncourt Public School.
Video Documentation- Sam James and Emmanuella Prigioni
Photography – Mayu Kanamori and William Yang
Picnickers who lovingly brought their dead with them as part of their picnic.
Elephant House Ceremony 2011 Rookwood Necropolis
Concept, Ceremony and Event Co-ordination- Victoria Spence
Fabric Artist- Nicole Barakat
Lantern Concept, Designer and Fire Creator- Pip Playford
Co- Creative Team Members- Kerrie Noonan from Groundswell, Jade Kemety,Peggy Wallach, Corinne Sellers
Rigger- Jade Kemety
Artists and volunteers on the day- Julieanne Campbell, Honey Spence, Jenny Briscoe-Hough, Kathy McCormick, Kerrie Noonan, The staff and groundsmen from the Anglican Office ot Rookwood Cemetery, Natalie Gane,
Music Co-ordinator and Singer- Annette Tesoriero
Cellist- Mary Rapp
Shakuhachi- Bronwyn Kirkpatrick
Auburn Writers Group – Representative Nur Allam
Publicity, Flyer Design and Co-Event Co-ordination – Natalie Gane and Bethany Allsopp
This event was finded by the Trust of the Anglican Cemetery of Rookwod Necropolis. With special thanks to the trustees and Derek
Banner images: Tamara Dean
Banner Design Mirabele Wouters
Site Design and implementation: Sarah Waterson
The Picnic Among Friends 2010 project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.