An artist who made picture frames for the parents of newborns using the mother’s placenta is now preserving people’s ashes in the same way.
Amanda Cotton developed the technique using recycled and sustainable materials while studying 3D Materials Practice at the University of Brighton, and after receiving positive feedback from customers decided not only to concentrate on commemorating life, but also death.
The 26-year-old’s first commission came from Sandra Lawrence, from Staffordshire, who wanted to keep a permanent memorial to her father close to her.
Dennis Dickens served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and died 11 years ago.
Mrs Lawrence praised Miss Cotton’s “sensitivity and professionalism” and said: “I never knew what to do with his ashes.
“I didn’t want to scatter them because I wanted a lasting memory.
“When I heard about Amanda’s frame it appealed to me immediately and what she has created is a beautiful thing to remember my father by.
“It is something that can move with us wherever we live.
“I am sure my father would have admired the frame and the work that has gone into it.
“It gives me the opportunity to keep a part of my dad in a beautiful piece of art that I will treasure forever.”
Miss Cotton, who works for a design company in London, first developed her frames by boiling and cooking an entire placenta and then grinding it into small pieces before placing it into a mould with resin and other materials.
To preserve someone’s remains, Miss Cotton places a small amount of ashes into a mould with other materials which enables the frame to set.
Each frame carries the relative’s birth and death dates, inset on the edges, the designer said.
She added: “We need to think of all waste in a completely new way, as raw materials which hold huge potential.
“Why not use human biomaterials and ashes where possible?
“They have valid aesthetic value and using materials with personal significance can provide relatives with poignant and permanent reminders of their loved ones.”
Miss Cotton is exhibiting her work at the Bonington Gallery in Nottingham next year, alongside 43 other artists.
The exhibition, called Crafting Anatomies, is curated by Rhian Solomon, whose work drawing parallels between skin and cloth inspired Miss Cotton’s picture frame project.