About /People

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.


Victoria Spence

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)

Contact Victoria

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.