Meet Flutter Lyon: Reflected Legacy Artist

Who is Flutter Lyon? In order to help answer that question, we've asked Flutter our Big 10 questions!! We are of course delighted to be working with Flutter Lyon to deliver the Reflected Legacy Project at Liverpool Hospital Palliative Care Ward.

We are currently running our first crowdfunding campaign with Pozible to bring this project to life and to support our efforts we have been awarded a MATCH grant from Creative Partnerships Australia - meaning that the 8K we raise on Pozible will be matched by up to 8K from CPA. 

Flutter Lyon at the Reflected Legacy launch with Palliative Care Staff at Liverpool Hospital.   L-R Molly Carlile (Special guest from The Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre, Austin Hospital Melbourne), Janet Heslep, Arlene Roach, Dr. Desi Seccombe, Kerrie Noonan, Flutter Lyon, Dr. Jennifer Wiltshire, Dr. Evelyn Tan

Flutter Lyon at the Reflected Legacy launch with Palliative Care Staff at Liverpool Hospital. 

L-R Molly Carlile (Special guest from The Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre, Austin Hospital Melbourne), Janet Heslep, Arlene Roach, Dr. Desi Seccombe, Kerrie Noonan, Flutter Lyon, Dr. Jennifer Wiltshire, Dr. Evelyn Tan

What is your work and why do you do it?

I work with a beautiful art form called Ink-Pressing. I first developed the technique in 2006 and it has become my master practice. I just love it. I host one-on-one experiences called as Pressing Sessions. During a Session my guest will share their life stories of courage, freedom, joy, strength and love and while they speak, I create a richly coloured symmetrical artwork that becomes a visual biography, a tangible representation of that person's life and legacy. 

I have focused my artistic career on this practice because there's something very cool about combining art and health. Art can create environments and allow moments to occur where vulnerability, honesty and reflection feel natural and incredibly powerful. We can begin to see our lives and experiences from a new perspective, deriving meaning and seeing the stunning nature of the human experience from a unique vantage point. Simply giving people a moment to be heard and seen has great value in our world. 

I've been hosting Pressing Sessions for 5 years and I'm so honored to be able to work with The Groundswell Project to now take this therapeutic practice into the palliative care setting - recording people's life stories and creating legacy Ink-Pressings and sound recordings for the patients and their loved ones in the Palliative Care Ward at Liverpool Hospital. The Reflected Legacy project is a 3 month residency project at the hospital and will result in a book of the artworks and a collection of excerpts and insights into storytelling and reflections during the end of life experience. This is a pilot program of a larger project that we hope to rollout nationwide.

What is your most memorable experience of this work?

Oh gosh, there are so many! There have been tears and there has been laughter. Moments of realisation and moments of deep reflection and beauty. 

One particular experience that springs to mind is a story a client of mine shared about freedom. One night she went swimming in the ocean. While she floated on her back under the stars, she suddenly felt like she was the only person on the planet, floating in this open sea alone and peaceful. She wasn't afraid, she was free. She told she me that it made her realise how much strength she had inside of herself. That in this giant ocean, on this giant planet, even as one small human being, she came to see her innate courage and ability to help make the world a better place. 

To represent this story in the artwork, I drew the shape of a lung in ink and pressed it into the paper, creating a symmetrical shape. Then I drew a small form within those lungs to represent her - her body floating within a giant ocean of breath. In the future, when she looks at her Ink-Pressing, she'll see those lungs and remember that a sense of freedom and strength is only a breath away.

Do you have any tips on how someone could develop their personal relationship with their mortality/death/dying?

That's a tough question. It's such a personal experience. Throughout the development of the Reflected Legacy project it has given me an opportunity to consider my own approach to death and dying. I think there is great power in considering the potential ending to our stories, considering the life we're living right now and developing a sense of trust around the end of life process.

Cremation, Aquamation, promession, natural burial or….? How do you want your body disposed of after death?

I think I'd like to be cremated. Something I've been thinking about is - could we make a type of ink or painting medium from cremation ash? I think it would be so beautiful to create an artform from the actual remains of a person. If another artist felt that same sense of beauty about the idea, I'd love to know that someone could create something new and beautiful from what remains of my human form. I'll look into this idea and let you know what I come up with (or if someone else is already exploring it.)

What’s the best funeral you’ve ever been to, and why?

I recently attended my step-grandfather's funeral. He was a well known farmer in North West NSW and half the town came to pay their respects. The funeral presentation was beautiful - it traversed stories of his life on the farm, developing a 12,000 wheat and cotton property on the fertile Liverpool Plains. It was such a warm and genuine service, it had a real sense of celebration and honour. There was sadness but it was a kind of appreciative, joyous sadness. His casket was decoration with a beautiful arrangement of wheatheads and sunflowers from the farm. 

Assuming you have one, what will your deathbed scene be like? 

Filled with confetti fluttering all around I hope! Canary yellow confetti! Peaceful, bright, warm, happy, creative.

What songs will be played at your funeral?

Organ Donor by DJ Shadow. It's my favourite song in the world. I've only just realised that it's actually quite a funny or ironic choice, given its name, but I just love it. Very cool for a funeral. I'd want my funeral to be a wonderful party of colour and life and celebration.

What is your best advice when people remark “I don’t know what to say”

You know, sometimes we just don't have the words for a situation. I think that's okay. Sometimes, a facial expression or even just a single glance in someone's eye can say what is needed. Sometimes it's about spending time and being present. I think it's too contextual for me to give advice on how to respond to that phrase - but I think it's about respecting where someone is at and reading a situation with our hearts and not just with our heads. 

Is working with people dying morbid? are you ‘special’/‘weird’/‘scary’ to be doing this work?

I think society has been told that and we're doing this work to change that perception. My work is about celebration and reflection, beauty and courage. It's hard to feel morbid while you've got all those other things going on. I think it's about refocusing and creating space for a duality of emotions, happiness and sadness alongside each other, grief and celebration coexisting.

What’s your view on death being taboo?

Many things have been taboo that no longer are - from sexuality to gender to race - I think death is one of the next major areas undergoing a societal shift in perception and understanding. The nature of our conversations around death and dying and our practices around griefs are important. With respect, sensitivity and creativity, I think some very powerful work is being done and will be done in the next few years in this space. I look forward to being part of it.

What do you hope/imagine your legacy might be when you’re gone?

I hope I inspire other people to live the fullest, most joy filled life they can. Having experienced serious depression from a young age, I didn't actually think I'd make my 30th birthday. To have lived through a breakdown a couple of years ago and to now be able to live such a stable, healthy and happy life is profound to me. I see every day as a precious gift of experience and I do everything I can to live every moment with honesty and freedom. I would hope that leaving a legacy behind that represents those kinds of values would be a wonderful thing.