London’s Southbank Centre is celebrating them by exhibiting Boxed: Fabulous Coffins from UK and Ghana as part of its four-day season, Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living.
Boxed on display at the Royal Festival Hall, is made up of designs by Ghanaian Paa Joe and Crazy Coffins of Nottingham. Think Mercedes shaped sarcophagi and cocoa bean cocoons, rather then subdued caskets.
Design Week was first introduced to the work of Paa Joe, back in 2010. He is the main practitioner of coffin design in Ghana, and apprenticed to a Kane Quaye, who started the craze in 1951 when he made an aeroplane-shaped coffin for his late mother who never had the chance to fly.
While Paa Joe’s are very much bespoke designs, some of Crazy Coffins’ will have broader appeal. Are you a proud northerner and feeling a bit ill? Or are you Antony Gormley? Try this Angel of The North-shaped design.
Other coffin-dodgers’ commissions include an Orient Express, a corkscrew, and what appears to be the corpse of a skiing enthusiast.
Jude Kelly, artistic director at the Southbank stresses that the festival is not for the macabre.
‘There is so much about our common humanity that we acknowledge, share and celebrate, so why are we so reluctant to face up to the very thing, that in the end unites us all,’ she says.
Boxed: Fabulous Coffins from UK and Ghana is part of Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living at the Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 and runs from 20-29 January.