PS Upstairs Gallery
22-26 Pakenham St.
Fremantle WA 6160

1–22 August 2020
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am -4 pm

Saturday 8 August – open studio 2 -4 pm 

Emily McGuire presents the first part of a series of artworks on death for this exhibition, ‘Shroud’, which features paintings and a prayer wall. The paintings are the basis for a series of death shrouds which will be translated and printed onto cloth, as if for ritual wrapping of a body for burial. These silk and muslin death wraps are integral to the development of a later installation: 4 bodies, 8 silks, 1000 prayers.


n. winding sheet; garment for the dead; v.t. clothe (corpse) for burial

Beauty in Death.

“Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
From my heart to yours
From this window, like the moon, I keep sending news secretly”.

Emily is exploring various aspects of death: finding beauty in death; the powerful ground that can emerge from pain; the visceral and important human rituals and symbolism of caring for the dead, for loved ones; our connection to the body (both our own, and in relationship to others); our relationship to mortality, time, space, materials and the sensory body; and how humans can experience many symbolic death cycles through life – which in turn trigger a shedding and renewal. 

Our human relationship to sound, space and materials provide context. Emily’s interest in the rituals of death stems from her background in concrete research and study of certain Egyptian burial chambers from the Great Pyramids, which were constructed to generate a resonant frequency within the space. The chambers were used for ritual chanting over the sarcophagus to honour the dead. Ritual was amplified through the materials, form and frequencies within the space.

Emily is interested in people’s relationship to sound, materials, space and sensory life, and how materials affect the body. Her research interests include the effect of sound and light on cell formation and silica-activated concretes. 

Emily’s view is that death and pain can be a powerful energy to utilise in life, both for connections within the self and with each other. Possibly a worthy reflection in 2020.


Paintings: These works form the basis of Emily’s interpretations and will later be transferred to a series of silk and muslin death shrouds, as the second iteration of her ‘death’ installations.

Prayer Wall: People are invited to add to the prayer wall, by writing on a strip of cloth – a word, idea, or statement, signed or unsigned. These will be gathered and documented for the series.

The Sensory Body: People are invited to sit in silence within the exhibition space, and be aware of their own body and sensory or emotional response to death; and contribute words or thoughts to the prayer wall; or book a time with the artist to discuss the work.

Listen to emily talk about her process...


Emily McGuire is a multi-disciplinary artist investigating the parallels of art, life, death and transformation in her current death series. Shroud explores how people find beauty and power in endings and might experience the power of art to generate new states of being. Her careful arrangement of contrasting elements and materials – often incorporating painting, textiles, and objects – involves a practical and poetic approach to her work, which often ties back in to what it means to be human and to connect. Emily’s background in architecture, specialising in silica-activated concretes, significantly informs her work.