Wonderful New Website

We're so excited at Elysium to be launching our new website!

We have been working with a brilliant young designer Jack Caslake from cazdesign.co , who has done a great job of updating the site and making it much more user friendly. He's been a joy to deal with and we're thrilled with the results. Let's hope it helps us reach more of those who are looking for a unique and personal memorial to keep at home.

 


Meet the Elysium Team - Kate Semple

We’d like to introduce you to the artists involved in making Elysium’s bespoke memorials properly, so have decided to do a blog about each of them, starting with Kate Semple, sculptor and founder of the business.

Kate’s working life has been spent exploring the joy of creativity and making things. She began at 16 by training to be a silversmith, mainly producing tableware. She went on to study for a degree in glass, then some time later retrained as a stonemason. Stone has since become her focus for over twenty years.
She began in industry, working as a mason for large firms on architectural projects. She then became self employed and gradually pushed her work towards sculpture and eventually became a full time artist. She has produced sculpture of every scale, from large public work to smaller pieces for private clients and exhibition. She also has a stone school at her studio and teaches the ancient art of stone carving to people of all ages and abilities. Her sculpture often draws on her experience with other materials and uses mixed media.

 

 

Kate set up Elysium Memorials because she saw a shift in the way people were thinking about funerals and burials and marking the passing of a life. The internet was offering an opportunity for people to research and find something to suit them, rather than what was offered to them by the funeral director. She saw lots of very commercial, mass produced products out there, but nothing that really put thought and heart into them. She began to think people might respond to having something beautifully made, by local craftspeople. She set out to produce precious objects as memorials for the home and garden, designed and made by artists, reflecting the person they represent.

“Nothing has ever given me greater satisfaction than producing memorials for Elysium” Kate says, “no art work could ever have more meaning than representing the life and personality of someone who has died. It is a privilege to make them, and to deal with the families involved.”

Kate plans to keep on growing the business, bringing in new artists to the business along the way, hoping to expand the range and it’s appeal.

 


Garden Sculpture V Headstone

Headstones are often made from Granite imported from the other side of the world. They come into the UK ready shaped from a factory in the Far East, the work of a monumental mason only being to sandblast the inscription and fixing it in the cemetery. Where is the heart and sense of community in this cold process? Why have a cold slab of shiney Granite from thousands of miles away when there are stones locally that look and feel right and are a small chunk of our own land and history.

Why not have a sculpture in the garden in memory of a loved one? Something that speaks of the person and has been designed and made with integrity and care. Something to pass down through the family and something that can be transported from garden to garden as the family moves.


Memorials that speak of a place as well as a person

The thing that brings me more pleasure than anything when making memorials for people, is the symbolic significance they hold. Whether it is an urn for ashes or a garden sculpture, I try to imbue the work symbolically with the essence of the person it represents. This may be through a certain colour, or an inscription, or a shape or form.

The materials used are also very important. If the person was Welsh, I would try and design something using some local slate or oak, if they come from the south of England I would source some Portland or other local stone. A piece of local stone used for a sculpture is a small chunk of the land the person comes from and speaks of them as well as the place they were born or lived in. It is a small piece of “their world”. We are part of Britain, Europe, the World, but home never leaves us.


Memorials at home, keeping our beauty spots natural

I was interested to hear on the news this morning an article about The National Trust complaining of memorial benches cluttering up beauty spots and making them feel like cemeteries.

I can see both sides of this argument. Favourite holiday or walking places are very personal and feature strongly in family histories. Marking somebody’s life somewhere they had a strong connection with is a very symbolic and significant act bringing great pleasure and comfort to a family. On the other hand, these are public spaces for everyone to enjoy and use and not for the individual to put their mark on.

When I first started Elysium this was just the sort of problem I had in mind to try and solve, along with the lack of space in cemeteries and people not knowing quite what to do with the ashes of their loved ones. The answer I came up with was to have a specially made artwork made for the home or garden, that speaks of the person, looks beautiful and can contain the ashes if required. This can move house with the owner and be passed down through the family as an heirloom. A good alternative indeed that is a poignant reminder of a loved one that can be enjoyed all the time and doesn’t impact on anybody else.

 


Elysium’s Art to Remember on the BBC Website

The BBC news website has a great article on Elysium: