A new photography exhibition is kickstarting a conversation about grief to mark Dying Matters Week 2024.

The Projecting Grief exhibition tells the stories of people finding comfort, distraction or hope in a creative pursuit after losing someone they love, and is popping up at The Trafford Centre from 6-12 May as part of a collaboration with NHS Greater Manchester.

Projecting Grief began as an online gallery and is the work of photographer Jo Ritchie and writer Laura McDonagh. Jo started the project after her brother, Jack, died by gambling-related suicide. After Jack’s death, she felt drawn to take photographs of people who were using a creative outlet for relief after being bereaved. Laura, whose mother Anne died suddenly in 2019, joined the project as interviewer and writer to add context to the portraits.

“There was a point where I couldn’t imagine picking up my camera again,” said photographer Jo Ritchie. “But I found it fascinating and uplifting when I discovered people using their creativity to help them cope.”


“We’re not sugarcoating grief, but we’re showing other bereaved people that there’s a community out there looking for comfort in creativity and offering some hope. These images and stories are a tribute to human resilience.”

Writer Laura McDonagh added, “We’ve featured rocking horse makers to musicians, and podcasters to poets. Some of the people we speak to are professional artists while others are simply doing something creative when time allows.”

“With Projecting Grief, we’re saying two things: firstly, that creativity is powerful and secondly, that it’s for everyone – not just a select few.”

The exhibition will feature three new stories from members of the Sing Their Name choir as part of its collaboration with NHS Greater Manchester. The Sing Their Name choir, made up by people bereaved by suicide, is thought to be the only peer-support group of its kind in the UK. The choir will be performing for the general public in the Trafford Centre on Wednesday 8 May at 7pm.

There will also be an opportunity to take part in two free creative workshops centred on grief – a creative writing sessionwith Freya Bromley, author of The Tidal Year, on Thursday 9 May 2-4pm, and a paper collage workshop with Jo-Ann Burgess on Sunday 12 May 2-4pm. Details and tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Adele Owen QPM, Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention & Bereavement Support Programme Manager, said, “NHS Greater Manchester is thrilled to be working with Projecting Grief for this exhibition. It is a fantastic opportunity to encourage people to talk more about bereavement and grief as well as explore how therapeutic creative activity can be for those who have lost loved ones.”


“It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the different offers of support across Greater Manchester for anyone affected by bereavement and we encourage people to come along to the exhibition and book a place on a workshop.”

“If you have lost a loved one, the Greater Manchester Bereavement Service is there to listen and help you find the right support. It’s a confidential service with dedicated suicide bereavement practitioners, who are there for you no matter how long it’s been since the person died. You can access the service by calling 0161 983 0902.”


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