For many of us, talking about loss is an incredibly painful and difficult thing. It takes strength and courage to describe how you are feeling after a bereavement, and all too often, we avoid the conversation because we can’t find the right words.

When Words Hurt is an exhibition hosted by Let’s Talk About Loss to explore creative ways of communicating grief. The famous saying goes, “a picture tells a thousand words”, and we want to use this exhibition to explore unique ways of telling our stories of bereavement. Since 2017, Let’s Talk About Loss has accepted blog posts from individuals wishing to share their thoughts on grief. With this exhibition, instead of asking for a blog post, we’re asking for creative submissions that we will display as part of the exhibition.

The exhibition details

We won funding for this innovative, cutting-edge exhibition in October 2018, from Nottingham based arts fund Hard Heads and Hang Ups and #NottsSoup. They called for ideas that improved people’s mental health using the arts, and we were thrilled to win the money to host and manage this exhibition.

When? The exhibition was hosted between Monday 13 May and Sunday 16 June 2019.

Where? We are privileged that THiNK in NG, a Nottingham city centre event space, hosted the exhibition for us in Nottingham.

Take a look at the exhibition…

Have a watch of our promotional video for When Words Hurt, filmed on our opening night in May.

Submissions

We received 49 submissions to our exhibition, which was phenomenal. Thank you to everyone who submitted to the exhibition and supported our idea. We hope to reopen submissions for another exhibition somewhere in the UK in 2020. Watch this space!

What we hoped to achieve

At Let’s Talk About Loss, we do what we say on the tin. We talk about loss. We start difficult conversations, ask questions that others avoid, and get young people who have been bereaved talking about how they are feeling.

Words can be messy, painful, ill-advised and unkind

However, we know that for some, words hurt. Words can be messy, painful, ill-advised and unkind. Many young people are scared to talk about how they are feeling for fear of being judged, ignored or shunned. We want to give everyone the opportunity to share their stories of loss, even when words hurt.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the exhibition, both those who submitted and those who came along. Together, we’re talking through the taboos. Together, let’s talk about loss.

Photos from the exhibition

Feedback from the exhibition

We were so lucky to have overwhelmingly positive feedback for the exhibition, some of which is posted here…

“Love seeing what everyone submitted! This really made me want to go home and hug my family. There is a lot of love in this room.” 

“Lovely exhibition. So glad I came and exhibited. I am proud of everyone in it. It was initially harder than I expected, but such a positive experience and welcoming atmosphere.”

“Beautiful! All the difference expressions, emotions and artforms. So grateful for the opportunity to see this exhibition. Especially proud of my niece for exhibiting. This exhibition stirs emotions I’ve successfully been hiding till now!”

“What a thought provoking and beautiful exhibition highlighting our shared connection as human beings navigating our way through loss. I hope it encourages people to talk and know that they are not alone. We are all in this together. Thank you for making me pause and reflect – not just on what is lost but also what remains.” 

“Amazing, very touching and erudite. Thanks for putting all this together.”

“Really interesting exhibition. Grief never ends, you just live differently.”

“Thank you for organising such an incredible exhibition. It is very inspiring and touching being in a room of people and creative work linked to grief. Because of this opportunity, I have been able to express and share my grief for the first time. This means a lot.” 

“It is an extremely insightful and beautiful exhibition. Much applause.”

“I found this so moving and also so life-affirming. It’s reminded me to live fully and tell people that I love them. A job well done and a beautiful evening. Thank you.”

“A fantastic and deeply moving exhibition. Thank you for having me, and best of luck for future projects.”

“I think that your exhibition is wonderful. We that grieve are hidden, and this exhibition shows that I am not alone. I knew I was not alone, but now I see. Thank you for letting me be a part of the exhibition.”

“A beautiful exhibition. We should learn to talk about death more openly, especially with the UK’s aging population. Personally, although death can seem frightening, thinking about death helps us realise what truly matters and our priorities. Ironically, thinking about death makes me feel more alive. Thank you to all the contributors – brought a tear to my eye.” 

“Some really lovely and thought provoking art pieces. I’m surprised at how well the artists manage to express themselves and make a physical representation of their feelings – I know I wouldn’t be able to!”

“A great mix of art representing a mix of different experiences. Beautifully organised. I found it interesting to read other people’s interpretations of grief who had gone through similar. Well done on your hard work!”

“I thought it was a really beautiful display of art. All the pieces were so varied which really showed the varied ways in which people experience grief. I think the whole thing will make people feel less alone.” 

“I think it’s a great idea to express grief as art. It is so hard to explain how you feel when you have lost someone incredibly close to you. I find comfort seeing and knowing I am not alone.”

“Thank you for creating such a wonderful exhibition and letting my work be a part of it. I feel so proud seeing my art here and emotional at the same time. The works are all so different. Keep doing amazing things like this.”

“Absolutely phenomenal. Beautiful tributes to loved ones. It spoke to my soul and my grief. I relate to everything. It is the perfect representation of everything I can’t quite put into words.” 

“Thank you for organising a very moving exhibition. It just shows how the power of art and creative thinking can help people so much when dealing with bereavement. Having just suffered the loss of my dearest friend in the world, my rock, this has inspired me to find my creative side to help deal with grief. Thank you.” 

“Thank you for collating this collection of works. Please thank the brave people who have shared their grief with others in this space. The exhibit should tour in my opinion! As many people as possible should experience this sharing of grief. I leave this space drained and with salty eyes but grateful for having travelled (from London) just to see and share in this collection. Thank you all for your bravery. Thank you all for your creativity. May you be safe, be well, be free from suffering and find opportunity for growth.”

“I am grateful for the existence of this exhibition. My twin sister was a talented artist who recognised the power of creativity to express and help process difficult situations in life. It is in her legacy I embrace its potential to help me face her death. I would love to get involved and support this worthwhile cause.”

“Thank you. Incredibly moving exhibition. Do it again and again. Inspired, overwhelmed and thankful for the opportunity to cry. Thank you.”

“A beautiful collection of sadness and loss expressed in many mediums. Moving and thought provoking. Remembering those who we have all lost.” 

“One year ago today we were celebrating my daughter’s success at her Fine Art degree show at Loughborough University. Today we are visiting your exhibition with her twin sister as we lost her in a car accident last October. We are experiencing all the thoughts and feelings expressed by the exhibitors. In a way it is good to know that we are not alone in our grief whilst not wishing this awful situation on anyone. Art is a great way to express emotions and I think having the opportunity to share these artworks is really helpful. Thank you.” 

Thank you to all those that provided feedback. Names have been removed to protect confidentiality.

More information about our wonderful location and supporters

THiNK in NG Meeting Rooms and Art Gallery in Nottingham City Centre provide space and support to make good things happen. They can be found at Cobden Chambers, off Pelham St, Nottingham NG1 2ED, and are accessible to wheelchair users. Follow them at: www.thinkinng.org, @thinkin_ng and contact them at hello@thinkinng.org

Lets Talk About Loss was awarded funding from Hard Heads and Hang Ups at a #NottsSoup Arts and Mental Health special event. #NottsSoup is organised by THiNK in NG and provides opportunities for people with good ideas to pitch for funding from an audience who pays a fiver for donated soup. Our Arts and Mental Health special is supported by additional donations from Lubrizol and others. The next one is 6-9pm Thursday 16th May and details including how to apply to pitch are at www.thinkinng.org.

Lubrizol is committed to being a good corporate citizen in all of the communities where we live and work. Lubrizol employees have given their time, skills, experience, dedication and energy, supporting many local community initiatives and charities, positively affecting hundreds of lives over many years. At Lubrizol Hazelwood we’ve proudly supported the Hard Heads and Hang Ups and #NottsSoup events for the past three years at the THiNK Gallery.

To find out more about Lubrizol check out the links: www.lubrizol.com / https://www.lubrizol.com/Our-Company/About-Lubrizol/Locations/Hazelwood