We are Noel and Jill Brennan and we now live in North Cornwall with our two children and Roy, the miniature poodle. Noel is a sculptor and scenic artist with a background in graphic design and over twenty-five years' experience in the TV and Exhibition industry. Jill has taken a vocational route through ministry and education. Casting Ashes® is our first joint business venture and part of our mid-life crisis-cum-adventure! We have left our city jobs behind and are pursuing a simpler life at a slower pace doing things we love.
Although fortunate to have been involved in many exciting commercial projects that have taken him all over the world, Noel has always yearned for the day when he could follow his own creative path and indulge his main passion - sculpture.
The initial idea for Casting Ashes came when at a family funeral, Noel announced he would like his ashes to be cast into sculpture. We knew it was possible to have ashes fused into blown glass to create keepsake jewellery, but as far as we could see no-one was casting ashes into concrete.
The name 'Casting Ashes' seemed obvious and came to us very early on - in fact we had it trademarked back in 2015, a couple of years before we made the big move. It was quite a risk, but we were excited at the prospect of doing something innovative, and especially something that might help people at a time of sadness and loss.
Noel is a scenic artist and prop maker with over 25 years experience in the TV and Exhibition industry and a background in Graphic Design. He has been involved in many projects that have taken him to different places around the world.
However, Noel's main passion has always been sculpture, and since moving to Cornwall this is finding new expression. "It is a ’thin place’ - very spiritual. A place you find unexpected beauty in brokenness. And using Cornish granite dust - local quarry by-product is symbolic of new beginnings... something broken and worn away being re-formed."
For Noel, the choice to cast cremation ash is an artisitic statement. "At a physical level we have the essence of a unique significant someone combined with minerals of the earth - literally a little piece of Cornwall. And for me this signifies our elemental connection with nature, and is a reminder that nothing and no-one is ever really lost to us."
Many of the designs have tactile curved, smooth lines and this again this is intentional. "The first thing people want to do is touch and stroke them. It's an innate response and something that people find comforting."
Noel sees his remembrance sculpture as 'functional art' to hold space for people through "the ache of grief".
The taboos surrounding death and bereavement are lifting, and with the emergence of death cafes and death doulas we see a movement towards more 'conscious dying' and an emphasis on supporting people through the transition. This can be an enriching time of healing and growth. We feel priviliged to have a part to play are keen to network with others within the field.