Pushing boundaries of burial

The Bunyip Press
Sam Greenwood
August 11, 2021


WITH interest in natural burial increasing, a rescheduled free exhibition of eco-coffins and shrouds entitled Pushing up Daisies at Gawler Civic Centre is timely.

Gawler Environment Centre (GEC), which held a similar successful exhibition last year, is again partnering with Gawler Council for the second exhibition of the coffins and shrouds created by participants in recent Eco Coffin Project workshops.

Pushing up Daisies is part of the 2021 SA Living Artists Festival (SALA).

Before the state’s seven-day COVID-19 lockdown last month, the exhibition was scheduled to run from July 26 to August 27 at the Civic Centre.

The mixed-media event has since been rescheduled and shortened, opening on Monday this week, and will still run until August 27, from 9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

In addition to the eco-coffins and shrouds at the exhibition, there is also a digital display, exploring “the creative process of each artist”.

The Eco Coffin Project is run by Abby Buckley, a GEC committee member and proprietor of local business Our Family Celebrant.

In its second year, the project involved 15 participants who attended the workshops to learn about options for enviro-friendly natural burials.

Some then created and/or decorated their own eco-coffin or shroud using fully biodegradable materials.

“Interest in natural burial is on the increase,” Ms Buckley said.

“Many people are amazed to learn that we have two natural burial grounds in metropolitan Adelaide – Wirra Wonga at Enfield Memorial Park, and Pilyu Yarta at Smithfield Memorial Park.

“On display in this year’s Pushing Up Daisies exhibition are personally decorated eco-coffins and shrouds suitable for natural burial, including a pet shroud.

“Conversations about death, which are usually hard to have, emerge gently and naturally with family members during the making and decorating process.”

Ms Buckley said South Australia was the only state that had natural burials in its legislation.

She said many people were still new to the concept.

“Natural burial is where you have a shallower grave and there is a metre from the tip of the nose to the top of the earth,” she said.

“There is no embalming so the body can nourish the earth and not make it toxic; the body has to be wrapped in biodegradable materials, either a shroud or eco-coffin, and there’s no headstones.

“When you walk through a natural burial ground it’s like walking through the bush.”

Ms Buckley said a natural burial allowed people’s last act on Earth to be one that gives back to the planet.

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