The Artist Who Paints With Human Remains

A photo of ashes.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

To many, the idea of painting with human remains is bizarre and unsettling—creepy even. But to U.K.-based artist Val Thompson, it’s a beautiful way to carry on a loved one’s legacy.

Thompson runs her own company, called Ash 2 Art, where she paints with cremated ashes.

“I do respect the ash that’s given to me, people ought to know that I am aware that
this is from somebody that they have loved,” Thompson stated. “I am aware it is a treasure and when they hand it over I absolutely respect what they’ve asked me to do.”

Thompson credits her brother with coming up with the original idea. Years ago, he approached her with an unusual request: to create a painting using his sister-in-law’s deceased husband’s ashes.

Since the beach was the deceased’s favorite place on earth, Thompson painted a beautiful beach scene using his cremated remains. And his loved ones couldn’t have been happier with the final product.

Ever since word got out, several people have approached Thompson with similar requests. That’s when she decided to start her own business, Ash 2 Art.

“My brother and I did a bit of research on the Internet and discovered nobody else is providing this sort of service,” Thompson explained.

While most people get squeamish around human remains, Thompson says the ashes don’t faze her. As a former care worker, Thompson is used to seeing death up close and personal.

And yet, while it may seem like a revolutionary idea, similar businesses exist. For example, there are several companies that use cremated ashes to create glass-blown art. The customer is left with a vase, centerpiece, or other type of glass art to commemorate their loved ones.

As for Thompson, her paintings range anywhere from $576 to $1,150, depending on the size and scope of the project. But in the long run, the value of this type of work is absolutely priceless.

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