Eco Coffin Project Artist: Murray Goodes (2020)

Murray Goodes

Eco coffin. Artist: Murray Goodes, friends & family. Title: Remembering Murray. Dimensions: 2000 x 600 x 400 mm

Artist: Murray Goodes

Type: Eco Coffin

Title: Remembering Murray

Dimensions: 2000x600x400mm

Materials: eco-ply, eco-paint, eco-markers, drawings from tracings made by Murray for his coffin days before he tragically and unexpectedly died during the Eco Coffin Project and Covid-lockdown. Our group supported Jan (also a 2020 participant) to decorate Murray’s eco-coffin as he intended.

One of our wonderful 10 group members, Murray, died during week 5 of the Eco Coffin Project in 2020. His death was sudden, unexpected and so very sad for all who knew and loved him. Murray died of a heart attack, at home in the early hours. His partner Jan, who is also a group member of the Eco Coffin Project, was with him.

It was all very serendipitous that during the project Murray had discussed, with his two daughters and Jan, what he wanted to happen when he died. Until that discussion they had not known. He wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered as close as possible to the farm land he grew up on that is now under water as a reservoir for Adelaide. Murray had also designed how he wanted his coffin to be decorated. He had even drawn out the design to scale on tracing paper, sadly he never discussed his design fully with Jan “as we both thought we had plenty of time for that so I had to improvise in places”.

Some of our group came together and worked with Jan to decorate Murray’s coffin as he had designed it.

The added complexity was that we are under Covid-19 lockdown physical distancing rules meaning we need to maintain 1.5 meters distance between each other at all times and in South Australia no more than 10 people can gather at any time.

Assembling the coffin

Jan setup 2 trestle tables on her back patio; one table for the coffin base and the other for the coffin lid. Abby and her partner, Shane came up to work with Jan on assembling the coffin and then Gem Congdon came up the following day to start decorating it by transferring Murrays full size drawing on to the coffin lid and starting the painting. Gem came again the next day to complete the lid.

The paper liner was placed inside. The calico liner was fitted. The eco-coffin was then ready for painting and decorating. Painting began with the help of Jan’s Grandson who thought the world of Murray and shared their spiritual understandings and was thrilled to be a part of the preparation for Murrays final earthly journey. Gem helped transfer Murray’s design to the coffin lid.

Meaning of design elements

The White triangle depicts the white light, flanked by the colours of the Chakras.
Below the Chakras is a Caricature of Murray himself which was originally drawn by one of his employees.

The green, yellow, green shapes are actually S’s, which was his business Logo for St. Agnes Sign Shop. These are mirrored on the other side thus showing a balance. I then added Yin Yang into Murrays circles on either side again for balance.
The house at the bottom depicts the house he designed and built in the Riverland. It is a Stand-alone home, Solar Power only, with batteries and rain water for the house backed up with a River water allowance for the garden.
There the obvious stopped for me and the rest was my input from the fun life we shared.

We had recently bought a caravan, in August but sadly never went away in it as Murray was busy ‘improving’ it. Part of this was to design an outdoor area and change the curtains of the van. After 2 fabrics being ‘discussed’ and discarded, on third time lucky we agreed on the fabric shown in the largest circle. Below that there are 3 roses, yesterday, today and tomorrow, under that a red heart for love. Beneath that is a picture of the ‘famous’ caravan.

On the head-end is a photocopy of a picture we did when we first got together. We each drew our hands, cut them out and linked them together for Unity and Support. I printed the words of the song ‘With These Hands’ as I love the words of that song and also loved his hands, they were so talented in art and building and Music. Murray added the Hearts.

On the foot-end, I drew a picture of Mousey-Puss, his dearly loved cat who adhered herself to Murray as his constant companion and confidant.

Jan used Murray’s guitars to draw their outlines on the coffin, acoustic on one side and electric on the other. Plus she created a keyboard on both sides, painstakingly measured and painted. She said she learned huge lessons in masking properly and could hear Murrays encouragement as she worked.

Jan used Murray’s much-loved comfy red cushion to add a pop of colour. The finished decorated eco-coffin was a collaborative effort from many people to ensure Murray’s designs were represented as he intended. It was an honour for all of us to support Jan in this meditative practice which helped all of us.

Click to go to top of page

Be the first to know about our upcoming programs, workshops, retreats, events and news.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.