John Booth in his workshop with the urns he created for Farewill

Being remembered your way - how to choose an urn that reflects who you are

Life is full of colour and vibrancy. But we rarely talk about how that vibrancy of our lives can be reflected in our final resting place.

I’ve teamed up with Farewill to talk about how we can remember the people we love in a modern, creative way. I’ve created five bright urns that explore joyfulness in how we honour someone’s life, and to open more conversations around what we want when we die.

Death is difficult to think about, let alone talk about. But it’s something that will happen to us all, so it’s important we make death more approachable. Art has often been a way for people to express their emotions or talk about difficult subjects.

The urns are available to apply for. These reflect my take on celebrating life, but they may not resonate with you. So, I also wanted to share some thoughts on how you can approach creating or choosing your own urn, or that of someone you care about when they die.

Have a think about what you'd like

If you want your ashes to be kept in an urn, think about what kind you’d like. Would you like something colourful and unique, or something a little more subtle, minimal or classic? An urn marks a person’s final resting place, so it makes sense for it to represent who you are. If you’re thinking about an urn for someone else, what kinds of colours did they like, and how do you remember them best?

I think it’s about considering what feelings and emotions you are trying to evoke with the urn, how this reflects the person you are celebrating and how you want to remember this person. This could be as abstract or as literal as you like. Personally, for this project, I have approached it more abstractly as that suits my style more. I think whatever style you choose, it needs to be the sort of object that you are happy to look at every day, and that will help you remember that person in the best way possible.

I always find inspiration in colour and vibrancy within my work, and this is what I’ve really tried to reflect with my urns. I really liked the idea of urns being a tribute to a person – the urns I’ve created have a monumental quality to them with bold graphic shapes and sections to accommodate dried flowers.

Commission an artist

Many local artists and artisans dedicate their lives to learning their craft. A great way to get a beautiful urn is to find an artist whose style and work really resonates with you and commission them. It’s far more personal and special than a typical urn supplied by a funeral director.

The artist you choose to work with can incorporate what you’d like with their own unique style, guiding you on what’s possible and how your ideas can work in a final piece.

Communication is key, if possible, use email rather than DM on instagram, as it's easy to miss those messages at times. Use an artist because you like their style and you want their take on an urn, rather than just using them as a fabricator to create your own design. Work alongside them and share your ideas and thoughts.

Create your own

Although commissioning an artist is a personal and unique experience, it can be expensive, so a more accessible alternative could be to create your own.

Pottery classes are very popular and can be run in small groups, or one to one masterclasses. There are no strict guidelines on what constitutes an urn - it’s simply an empty vessel that contains ashes - so you are free to get creative and make it into whatever you like.

But, make sure:

  • It can hold ashes that weigh around 1.5 - 3.5kg

  • The volume inside is 3.5L or bigger

  • The opening can vary in diameter, but I would suggest around 12cm

  • There are no requirements for the lid of the urn - people use anything from screw-on to ‘slotted’. But, I would definitely recommend that the lid is secure if the urn is moved

Good luck, enjoy creating a personal and celebratory urn for the person you are remembering.

Apply for one of John's urns here

Many people choose an urn as their final resting place. But we rarely talk about how they can help us express who we are. For John, this meant creating five colourful urns to start a conversation about how we can better honour someone’s life, their way. If these urns resonate with you, you can apply to keep one.
Apply now