Heide Hatry, a 51-year-old artist has created portraits of dead people using the person’s own ashes, Metro UK reports.
The woman who lives in New York, has been commemorating lost loved ones with cremation portraits since 2008.
To create the likeness of the deceased, the German artist adds the ashes, piece by piece to layers of wax.
Heide said: ‘I was in a terrible state of grief because a close friend, who I had no idea was in such distress, had just committed suicide.
‘It not only devastated me but also brought back all the unresolved pain I had felt over my father’s death fifteen years earlier.
‘By chance, I had recently seen cremated ashes for the first time and I had been deeply moved by the experience.
‘Probably as a result I had the idea, which did come as a kind of flash, of making portraits of my father and my friend out of their ashes.’
A portrait of Heides father Paul Schmid Picture: Heides Hatry/Cateres)
She added: ‘For me the portraits were life-changing since I had to perfect the technique while I worked, but at the end I felt a sense of solace that was astonishing.
‘At first I thought that it must have had to do with the process itself, which is extremely painstaking and highly meditative, and during which I was in deep communion with their images, often talking or arguing out loud with them as if they were there.
‘But then a friend who knew what I was doing and who had lost his own mother at an early age and always felt that their relationship was unresolved asked me if I would make a portrait out of her ashes for him, which I did, and he described a very similar experience to what I had also felt, a profound and consoling sense of her presence.’
A portrait of John Bernard Boxer, the father of Heides art dealer Adam Boxer (Picture: Heide Hatry/Caters)
Heide has produced over 30 portraits using ashes to replicate the subject’s likeness using a photograph provided by families or friends.
She said: ‘Most people see the loving approach and are touched by it, though others find it unpleasant to think about.’
She added: ‘The Romans said ‘vita brevis, ars longa’ – Life is short, art is long- and I feel that this is a respectful way not only of honouring the ones we loved and of keeping them with us, keeping them in mind and in some sort of ordinary relationship to us, but of sustaining the part of us that was them, the pain of losing which we tend to feel and to express as grief.’