Mhairi Gregor (she/her )
I’m Mhairi, an interior design student based in Glasgow, Scotland. After obtaining my BA (Hons) at The Glasgow School of Art in 2019, I decided to further my education to Masters level. My interest within the practice of interior design lies in the subject of the macabre. I utilise artwork and theoretical texts as primary resources throughout my design processes to construct a variety of spaces. These interiors focus on providing open opportunities for people to discuss subjects that may be uncomfortable or taboo. This most recent project encompasses death, the afterlife and the journey the soul’s body takes down through the interior.
Death and The Afterlife
Death to me has always been a diverse and fascinating subject, but in today’s modern society it is a sensitive topic which is not openly spoken about and has always been related to negative and cruel connotations. Peoples fear of death emanates from the fear of the unknown and that which is out with personal control, yet our ancestors dealt with death in an open and unfearful manner. They manifested out of body experiences and created stories of continuous life outside the mortal realm where the soul could live eternally, but no one can fully comprehend what happens to us after we die. This project focuses upon the conceptual representation of death, and the journey the body takes through the four stages of the afterlife.
The entrance to the afterlife is where the deceased’s journey begins. I was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s quote, ‘The boundaries which divide life and death are at best shadowy and vague. Who is to say where the one ends, and where the other begins?’ This aided me to develop a final visual that blurs the line between the living and the dead. By researching the historical and decorative funeral practices of the Victorian era and conducting site analysis of the Glasgow Necropolis in its current state, I was able to create a series of sketches and collages that aided me throughout my development. I found it difficult to finalise my visual concept of the entrance as I was unsure on how to blur the boundary between life and death. This visual is not meant to be a direct representation of the Glasgow necropolis, but instead I chose a variety of elements that I found throughout the cemetery. I then reconstructed these elements together to create an entrance that represented various aspects of the necropolis. It also gives the viewer an insight as to how the afterlife will look before the deceased begins their journey.
The Burial Vault
The idea of the burial vault was loosely based upon the different stages of body decomposition after death. Once the deceased has entered through the entrance to the afterlife, they are absorbed down through the soil into an underground vault where they will begin the process of decomposition. The deceased is placed atop an elaborate stone coffin and is re-buried, thus providing every soul the opportunity to have the same elaborate funeral and eliminate any social hierarchies. The stone coffin that is depicted in this visual is based upon the variety of decorative coffins I found whilst undertaking my site analysis and the symbols which decorate it give an insight into the journey the body will take through the space.
The Rib Cage
From the vault the body is lowered into the next stage of decomposition. The main material used throughout this visual to construct this interior is bone. Bone is a durable material that has been used throughout history for decorative practices along with artefacts such as hourglasses, scythes, black drapery, and death masks. These are all elements of the memento mori and can be found decorating the interior of this space and others. The bones that are found within this visual belong to those who have already travelled through the space and undergone the decomposition process. My design process for this space included a variety of sketches and small collages that were developed in more detail to construct the final visualisation of this space.
The Final Resting Place
Finally, the deceased is transported down through the soil once more where the skeleton is then absorbed leaving only the soul. This is the final chamber of the afterlife where the soul is finally laid to rest. This visual was inspired by the Glasgow Necropolis in its current state where many of the gravesites have decayed and broken similar to the way in which the body decomposes over time. The development for this final visual consisted of sketches, models and collages that detailed the structure of the portal to the final resting place of the soul. Once the deceased journeys through the portal they are entering the final resting place of the soul. A death mask of the souls facial features remain along with their physical body that has now become a part of the interiors.