John Booth collaborates with Farewill on a series of urns promoting open conversations around death
The celebrated London-based artist and ceramicist applies his signature joyful style to a limited edition set of urns.
- Jyni Ong
- 7 April 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
London-based artist and ceramicist John Booth has teamed up with UK death specialists Farewill to create a limited edition set of bespoke urns in a project titled A Colourful Life. Known for his vibrant and bold colour palette, John has previously collaborated with the likes of Fendi and Paul Smith. Now, in the series of urns celebrating life, he is encouraging a more positive dialogue around the way we want to die. “After a year in a pandemic,” reads a press statement, “many of us still don’t feel comfortable confronting or planning for death but Farewill is working to change that, with the help of John’s joyful urns.”
John, who usually works in fashion and interiors, had to adopt a new headspace to tackle this brief. Farewill tasked him to create a collection of contemporary urns exploring how to “honour someone’s life and encourage more positivity when approaching the conversation what we want when we die,” explains the ceramicist. Urns have come to represent someone’s final resting place, but rarely do they convey a person’s life, something that John and Farewill aim to challenge through the project.
Commenting on the unique project, John continues, “It’s not every day that a project gives you the opportunity to create something both meaningful and monumental.” By working on the designs, he also contemplated why the urn as an artistic object hasn’t been considered more in the past. A Colourful Life provided John with a fruitful opportunity to kickstart some new ideas in a demotivating year marked by the pandemic. Though he has been able to work in his studio throughout the pandemic, it has still been tricky at times, and the Farewill collaboration offered a thought-provoking and poignant way to channel his creativity.
On the design of the urns, John explains: “The purpose of the urns was to spark conversation around how this object can be different to the traditional dark colours associated with death and funerals, and my style and practice worked well with this.” Adopting a modern spin to match the modern view of looking at death, John used his signature abstracted shapes and bold colours to create a more open approach to the subject.
For his visual references, the artist and ceramicist looked to flowers. “I used a lot of abstract flowers in the work as a way to merge old and new tradition together,” he adds, “the urns also have space to hold dried flowers which felt appropriate for this project.” There weren’t too many specific references John noted in preparation for the designs. Instead, he saw it as “capturing the energy and joy I usually convey in my work.”
Though he looked at lots of examples of urns at first, he quickly decided that the work should be “as adventurous as possible with my design.” He finally goes on to say, “One of my favourite examples of design, regardless of this project, is Patrick Caulfield’s gravestone in Highgate Cemetery in London. It’s just amazing, really clever and humorous, so I wanted to channel some of that same tongue in cheek energy into this project.” You can apply for one of the five urns here.
GalleryJohn Booth in collaboration with Farewill: A Colourful Life (Copyright © John Booth, 2021)
John Booth in collaboration with Farewill: A Colourful Life (Copyright © John Booth, 2021)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.