Antonia Rolls

Artist Extraordinaire

A Graceful

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and those who love them

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A Graceful Death. Portraits and words from the end of life (AGD).

In 2007 my beloved partner died, and in an effort to understand what was happening to him and to me, I painted him as he was dying and on the day of his death. 

It was a time of profound loss, grief and pain. I had not experience dying like this before, especially someone that I loved. It changed everything forever. These paintings were the foundation of the A Graceful Death exhibition and the beginning of my work as a holistic end of life companion.

I went on to work with and to paint and interview other people facing the end of their life, asking them two questions – Who are you? and What do you want to say? Over the next eight years, the exhibition has grown to over fifty portraits and words from people facing their own death; wonderful, sad, wise and honest words and images. There are videos, poetry written by visitors to the exhibition, and music. The exhibition is an experience.  Powerful, raw and loving, it will move you and inspire you.

It shows at end of life events, conferences, stand-alone exhibitions, medical schools, universities and wherever it is requested to show.

My partner was only with me for eighteen months. I like to think he came, gave me a job to do, and died.

A Graceful Death

“What a wonderful powerful day.  I am SO happy to have been here to take part and be part of the A Graceful Death exhibition and exploration.  I feel like I’ve met a soul mate/mates, with conditions coming together and interconnections weaving their magic tapestry.  Thank you so much for giving yourselves so fully.  Deeply moving.”

“As you know, and indeed observed, this was a difficult exhibition of me to visit. Very difficult not to break down. I was with both Mum and Dad when each of them died at home and you have captured the “look” or “ambience” of death which I remember” as it were yesterday”

“It is rare in my experience for people to address death openly, acceptingly.  But art is such a wonderful venue for difficult subjects.”

“Thank you for inspiring and providing help through painful experiences for me and so many others. Never hold back because it is the truth in this art that makes it so beautiful.”

“A very moving and interesting exhibition. Really quite beautiful in a very unique way! Very brave and a courageous move.”

“His leaving us was such a painful yet precious experience, and I wanted to hold a little of that forever.  Now, through Antonia’s work, I can hold it with the full beauty it deserves. He died his own Graceful Death. The day he died, I visited him.  He was asleep and looking so peaceful I couldn’t bear to wake him so I simply kissed him and left. Later that night, the carers walked him to his room, and he was singing to them. Once in his room, as they prepared him for bed, he slipped away.”

Addicts and those who love them.

Behind every addict, there is at least one person traumatised by loving them. This ongoing project asks both the addict and the person who loves them to say something about how they are coping. 

I paint portraits of each sitter and write what they say on the painting. I am painting each person as an angel or a saint, or at least a divine person, something to do with the dark and the light, the heaven and hell of addiction. 

There is addiction in my own life, and I am the person loving an addict. It is desperate most of the time.