Ascending Death

Dia De Los Muertos and falling leaves remind me of my own mortality and the beauty that can be found through letting go and change.


I created this piece to pay homage to the ‘Day of the Dead’.

I have always loved the decorations associated with this celebration, especially the sugar skull. So I decided to design my own six foot high skull and place it in front of my silver wings ‘Hybrid’.



For the finished skull design, I incorporated a number of different symbols that I have found to be reoccurring in my work, like the brain, heart, eye and merkaba star. Amongst these symbols I placed a quote by the (death obsessed) philosopher Soren Kierkegaard – “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.”

This quote, for me, highlights how slippery the mystery of human existence really is and how it can never really be understood. It is in constant movement.

Life is therefore fundamentally unintelligible. You cannot employ rational ways of thinking, to try and understand it.

Life is a paradoxical union of opposites. We cannot remain in reflection and we cannot live a life of pure unthinkable action. We are faced with reflection and action simultaneously and we are stuck oscillating between the two……..There is no sense to be had, so just roll with it and laugh.

The skull is a collection of ideas surrounding how we live our lives through emotions, education, experience and our own forms of spirituality.

A book that I read (and have been blabbing on about to everyone ever since) also influenced me. ‘The Tao of Pooh’ by Benjamin Hoff, helps to explain Taoism through the stories of Winnie the Pooh.


Taoism is about ‘The Tao’. This is usually translated as ‘The Way’. It is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. Similar to Soren’s ideas, the workings of Tao are vast and often beyond human logic. In order to understand Tao, reasoning alone will not suffice. One must also apply intuition. Taoism is a religion of unity and opposites; Yin and Yang. The principle of Yin Yang sees the world as filled with complementary forces – action and non-action, light and dark, hot and cold, and so on.

The main thing that I learnt from reading this book was to slow down. I have been known to be quite a hyper person and often tie my mind and body up with overthinking and over action.  One of the main things in life that I had been worrying about was where I was in relation to everyone else. After reading this book however it put a lot of things into perspective. It taught me to question everything. Who made up the rules, facts, laws, systems and goals anyway? Was it just another human with an overloaded brain who has separated him/herself from the supporting network of nature by interfering and trying too hard?

My mindset is now going to be centred on going with the flow and believing in my true inner nature. Having little understanding of yourself leads to having little respect for yourself which leads to being easily influenced by others.

It has also taught me that when I find something that I don’t like about myself I can transform this characteristic into something else instead of trying to brush it under the carpet and forget about it. Don’t try to erase negative emotions, learn from them in a positive way.

“The bad can be raw material for the good.” – Lao Tse

Reconnecting with the real world and with myself are now my main priorities.


The Curragh, Co. Kildare.
Collecting conkers.
My view from my art room door.

© All photos shown have been taken by Rachel Kiernan and are not to be used without permission.

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