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Fri, Oct 01, 2010
AFP
Singapore charity uses 'happy coffins' to celebrate life

[Above: Three residents from the St. Joseph's Home and Hospice in front of their customised coffins.]

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A SINGAPORE charity on Tuesday announced the winners of an international art competition to design "happy coffins" to encourage the elderly and dying to celebrate life.

Six winning designs out of 733 entries from 37 countries were made into personalised coffins in cooperation with a local funeral home.

The first prize of 3,000 US dollars (S$3,945) went to a 27-year-old Belgian woman, Ines van Gucht, whose design showed a furry black creature whom she described as a friend that would take care of her after her death.

A message on the figure read: "Hello coffin. You seem to be nice. One day we will meet again. To the rest of you I say goodbye. I hope it was a blast."

Other entries included a coffin designed to resemble chocolate bars and another depicting the dishes of a "last supper" served on the top.

Under the slogan "My Life, My Coffin" the foundation said it wanted to encourage people to think "out of the box" about taboos surrounding death.

Three elderly Singaporean women living in a Roman Catholic shelter, St. Joseph's Home and Hospice, co-designed their own coffins with young local artists as part of the project.

"I'm very pleased with it," Elsie Chua, 76, said with a serene smile as she sat in a wheelchair beside a white coffin with blue drawings of a young woman at a sewing machine surrounded by roses, birds, butterflies and a reindeer.

"I was a seamstress before and I sewed dresses for my mother, and that's why I chose it and the designer designed it for me," she told journalists.

The project was spearheaded by the local Lien Foundation, which favours non-traditional forms of philanthropy.

"This is to me part art, part social initiative to transform coffins - to me they are a supreme symbol of death - into a creative canvas for the reflection and celebration of life," said Lee Poh Wah, the foundation's chief executive officer.

 

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