The research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and started this week. It aims to use creative expression to encourage young people to discuss some of the often difficult issues associated with death.
The project aims to engage a group of young ‘NEETS’ (Not in employment, education or training) who attend The Park Local Opportunity Centre in Knowle, Bristol. The young people will have an opportunity to work with experts from the University’s Centre for Death and Society and create a range of creative pieces that look at natural burial practices in their local cemetery.
The research will use sound recordings, film, graffiti, arts, crafts, rap and poetry to express their ideas on the subject, and will also develop a short film about the project.
The work will result in a public exhibition displaying the outcomes of the project at a gallery in Bristol in April.
Dr Hannah Rumble, who will be carrying out much of the work, said: “This project will involve the Centre for Death and Society working closely with Kumiko Community Arts and Youth Moves to explore the reactions of young people about a natural burial area within Bedminster Cemetery and a natural burial site located in Thornbury called Memorial Woodlands.
“Through working with these young people we hope to encourage them to think more deeply about the concept of death and the issues and options that exist when making end of life decisions, and also to engage them in the important issues we work on.”
Previous research carried out by Dr Rumble has suggested that the UK is leading the way globally in natural - or woodland - burials where people are typically buried in a woodland, field or meadow setting, in wicker, cardboard or other ecologically appropriate coffins.
More than 260 natural burial sites now operate across the country, since the first opened in Carlisle twenty years ago.