Artworks pay tribute to lost children

20:48, Jan 22 2014
Project Butterfly'
HELPING CHARITY: Artist Lisa Grennell and Project Butterfly's Rebecca Malthus. Lisa is helping organise an exhibition of artworks at The Refinery to raise funds for the charity.

A Nelson artist is inviting bereaved parents to take part in a workshop to create a piece of art to commemorate their child.

The artwork will then be put together to form a mural at an exhibition at The Refinery Gallery to raise money for the charity Project Butterfly.

Nelson artist Lisa Grennell said that as a mother she was inspired to help raise funds for the charity, which helps bereaved parents, partly because she could not imagine losing a child.

"It's a universal thing and it happens to a lot of people and I think the more we can get it out there the less uncomfortable the public is going to be about talking about it," Lisa said.

"Those children need to have a voice, they have existed and they still do and that's what really inspired me to want to do something."

As part of the May exhibition at the gallery Lisa wants to create a mural made up of squares of artwork made by parents. It will be up to parents to fill the square in a way they want, whether it be with a block of colour, a picture or a word, or painting.


"It's about them and their voice and their child's voice."

She is holding a workshop for parents to create the artwork, but is also happy to drop the materials off to people who would prefer to make the artwork alone.

Artists interested in being part of the exhibition are asked to contact Vicki at the Refinery. The theme for the artwork is belonging and loss.

Expressions of interest are due the first week of February, but there is some flexibility with that.

Interested artists do not need to have their artwork ready until the May exhibition.

The exhibition will run over Mother's Day, which Lisa says was deliberate.

The artwork will be sold through a silent auction process.

The Refinery has offered the inner and outer gallery free of charge and free of commission. This has enabled them to give 60 per cent of the sales of the artwork to Project Butterfly and 40 per cent to the artist to cover their costs.

Lisa said she wanted to help after her experiences with people who had lost children and grandchildren.

She runs screen printing workshops and helped a grandmother who had lost a grandchild. She hand-printed service sheets for her granddaughter. Project Butterfly's Rebecca Malthus was booked in for a workshop but was forced to postpone after the death of her 14-month-old son Mac in 2012.

Rebecca set up the charity last year. One of its first projects is to create a memorial pathway at Fairfield Park to commemorate the children of Nelson who have died.

Rebecca hopes the chance to take part in the mural at the exhibition will help grieving parents.

"Hopefully it's a really cathartic experience and they meet other parents that have been through a similar thing. It can be quite an isolating experience. It's really hard to meet other parents that have been through the same thing as you."

She said parents would be able to keep their artwork and show Nelson a small glimpse into their lives.

It did not matter how long ago the child died, or how old they were when they died. The mural was open to everyone, she said.

"If you lost a child 20 or 30 years ago, or yesterday, it is still open to you."

"There's no age restriction for your child. You could be 80 and have lost your 60-year-old daughter. It's for everybody."

The workshop with Lisa costs $40, but Project Butterfly will subsidise it 50 per cent, so it costs only $20.