This piece is completely hand made with the dead robin image reproduced from a Victorian Christmas Card and the wording from an old gravestone in Laurence Kirk Graveyard in Burray, South Ronaldsay in Orkney.

I made this piece using clear glass and kiln fired the design with enamels. The dish required three separate firings t achieve the depth of colour and detail.

This is a new collection of Memento Mori pieces I began last year.

I have two small installations of my glass in two Kirkyards in South Ronaldsay.

This is a personal project and I understand the theme will not appeal to everyone.

My understanding of the ‘dead robin’ is Dead birds in many of these cards are thought to either represent the plight of the poor—who were likely to die in the cold winter streets—or to be a more general symbol for the winter season.


The Tate Gallery defines Vanitas as

The term originally comes from the opening lines of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: ‘Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’

Vanitas are closely related to memento mori still lifes which are artworks that remind the viewer of the shortness and fragility of life (memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember you must die’) and include symbols such as skulls and extinguished candles. However vanitas still-lifes also include other symbols such as musical instruments, wine and books to remind us explicitly of the vanity (in the sense of worthlessness) of worldly pleasures and goods.