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Artist creates portraits from ashes

Artist creates portraits from ashes

An artist has been making portraits of people using their ashes.

Heide Hatry, who lives in New York, has been creating the art pieces since 2008 after suffering the loss of a "close friend" and having the "flash" idea of immortalising them in a picture created from their ashes.

The German-born artist, 51, told the Metro newspaper: "I was in a terrible state of grief because a close friend, who I had no idea was in such distress, had just committed suicide.

"It not only devastated me but also brought back all the unresolved pain I had felt over my father's death fifteen years earlier.

"By chance, I had recently seen cremated ashes for the first time and I had been deeply moved by the experience.

"Probably as a result I had the idea, which did come as a kind of flash, of making portraits of my father and my friend out of their ashes."

The art pieces - which are created by adding the ashes to layers of wax piece by piece - are "extremely painstaking" to make, but Heide believes she feels a "deep communication" with the deceased person.

She added: "For me the portraits were life-changing since I had to perfect the technique while I worked, but at the end I felt a sense of solace that was astonishing.

"At first I thought that it must have had to do with the process itself, which is extremely painstaking and highly meditative, and during which I was in deep communion with their images, often talking or arguing out loud with them as if they were there."

And Heide has had mixed responses from those who know of her trade.

She said: "Most people see the loving approach and are touched by it, though others find it unpleasant to think about."