Last Rites

Last Rites is the companion piece to First Love. It has two components. The first is a series of photographs about the moment of death. We asked many people the question ”what is your image of the moment of death?“ Most responded initially by saying either everything goes black or that they see a bright white light. When pressed people went on to imagine other more detailed and specific visual images.

David Critchley used their words and over a period of a year took photos that responded to the ideas of the moment of death. In particular he echoed the dark/bright light idea and photographed predominantly black, white and grey subjects, although shot in colour. These were then added to photographs by other collaborators.

The second component is a series of framed ‘butterfly needles’ which are used to give drugs to dying patients. The needle is inserted under the skin and the tubing attached to a machine called a syringe driver. Drugs such as diamorphine are given to patient this way. The machine ensures the dose of drug is delivered constantly day and night to keep the dying patient as comfortable and free from distressing symptoms as is possible.

The syringe driver is started when a patient becomes too ill to take medication by mouth. It is now such a common part of terminal care that starting a ‘driver’ is akin to the Last Rites.

Go to ‘The story behind a photograph’ in Articles