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Artist designs biodegradable burial robes

An artist has designed biodegradable burial robes that can be used instead of a coffin.

Hilary Edwards-Malam created the garments – one similar to a wedding dress and another like a wearable sleeping bag – as part of her Masters degree at Liverpool Hope University.

Her unique designs have gone on display in an exhibition called ‘No Fear In Death’, and people have already asked her to create bespoke versions for them to be buried in.

Mrs Edwards-Malam, a mother-of-two, used natural dyes to colour her designs which naturally break down over time.

The robes are aimed at fellow Christians and she has embroidered religious verse on them with gold thread, which would be the only part of the robe not to decay.

She chose a wedding gown design as the bible refers to a Christian woman being the bride of Jesus.

“As part of my research I sent a questionnaire to Christian women in Winsford, where I live, asking them about their plans for their funerals," she said.

“One of the responses I got suggested it was a morbid thing to ask, but it’s actually about celebrating the transition from one phase of life to another.

“When you get used to thinking of death in those terms it gets less weird to think about how you’d like to be buried.

“I’ve been to the local crematorium and undertakers to speak to them about it.

“They said there is no reason why people could not be buried in them instead of a coffin."

Mr Edwards-Malam based her methods on sustainability and ethical production.

"The natural dyes I use tend to fade but it doesn’t matter when you're dead and buried really," she added.

“I like the idea of future generations digging, like we do searching for historic artefacts, and finding the embroidered words.

 "They will tell them something about what was really important to the that person.”

Mrs Edwards-Malam, who got a distinction in her by Creative Practice MA, graduates from Liverpool Hope at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on Thursday (January 24).

The Wharton resident hopes to continue her studies with a PHD, but must first find a scholarship or bursary.

“I did my undergraduate degree in 1988 so it was a big thing for me to do an MA. My children have both graduated themselves recently," she explained.

“I saw an advert for Liverpool Hope University’s open day and came along to rule it out really – just to stop me thinking ‘what if?’

“But it immediately felt like home. I was blown away by the University, the warm welcome I received, the facilities – everything. I knew it was something I had to do.”

Published on 28/01/2019