Dying Matters at Southbank Death festival

23 January 2012
London's Southbank Centre is celebrating death this weekend with the ironically titled 'Festival for the Living' from 27-29 January.

The arts centre will be hosting an extraordinary mix of challenging, informative and thought-provoking events around the subject of death: from an exhibition of quirky coffins to a concert of death-themed classical music by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

There will be talks from those who work professionally in the industry, including funeral directors, undertakers and medical experts, while performers and writers will explore issues relating to death. Other highlights include an exhibition of unconventional coffins; a puppet show for children about a guinea pig’s death entitled “Goodbye Mr. Muffin”; The Sandi Toksvig Memorial Lecture, which promises a mix of merriment and the macabre; and a debate on assisted dying hosted by television news presenter Jon Snow.

Dying Matters' Director of Public Engagement, Sam Turner (pictured), will be giving a talk on public attitudes towards dying, death andSam Turner, who will be speaking at the Southbank Festival of Living bereavement as part of the Death Bites series of talks, from 3-4pm on Saturday at St Paul’s Roof Pavilion in the Royal Festival Hall. The Dying Matters coalition will also be manning a stall throughout the event in the Marketplace, level 2 Foyer of the Royal Festival Hall.

Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly says the festival was borne out of a desire to provide practical information, meaty content and entertainment around a topic that “unites us all”.

She questions why death remains such a huge taboo, saying: “In the same way that the presence of humour in a well-observed wake can lighten the load, we hope our new festival can begin to allow some light onto a subject too often consigned to the shadows."

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