Surviving is a particular kind of commitment to the self. ‘The Urns Project’ grew from my intense pleasure in looking at and photographing the firm solidity and decorative charm of funerary urns. It arises also from my speculation on the path of the survivor who knows that, as Jacques Derrida writes: “the drama is not so much that we lose the friend after death but that we can no longer lose them; they who were once so distant become all too close, too close because now only within us - in us as part of us and of history and no longer as the singularity that called us out of ourselves and first made us responsible for them”.
Sally Gray (2013) Catalogue essay The Urns Project: A meditation on death, friendship and time
Working intimately on the history, biography and creative legacy of her friend, artist David McDiarmid, from the date of his death in 1995, Sally Gray became unavoidably aware that the dead are always present and that in some sense they become part of us. Drawing on Jacques Derrida’s writing on what he called The Work of Mourning, she worked with Berlin filmmaker Hermano Silva to craft a digital film based on still photographs of funerary urns she had taken during the preceding two years.