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Good gift, or a little bit morbid?

(40 Posts)
steppedonlego Sun 06-Mar-16 09:25:51

Been thinking carefully about what to get my dad for his birthday this year as he really is one of those men who have everything.

Mine and my siblings grandparents (his parents) have both sadly passed away, but they were very much loved and treasured by us all. Since they passed there have been great grandchildren born that they never had the opportunity to meet, and we have never had a big family picture taken together.

Wibu to commission an artist to do a (I'm thinking watercolour) painting of all of us, my grandparents, parents, siblings and the great grandchildren. I personally would love to receive it as a gift, but I'm worried that other people would see it as morbid. I'll bend to the wisdom of mumsnet wink

EatShitDerek Sun 06-Mar-16 09:28:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FellOutOfBedTwice Sun 06-Mar-16 09:29:21

Hmmm. Would depend if it was done tastefully. But even if it was, I think I would feel a bit weird about it. I loved my grandad dearly and wish he had met DD but a watercolour of them together when they never met would potentially make me feel ick... Although I appreciate that I can't articulate why. In short you know your dad and we don't. If you think he would be into it, do it.

CalleighDoodle Sun 06-Mar-16 09:30:14

When i opened the thread i thought it was going to be a burial plot so, by comparison, this sounds fine!

MidnightVelvetthe5th Sun 06-Mar-16 09:34:18

Instead of a watercolour I would be more inclined to do a photo canvas (sorry MN I know how much you hate them) with photos of the children & the grandparents on along with photos of everyone else. So that they are together but not in some weird stilted impossible portrait that reminds me of the Victorian tradition of posing the dead & photographing them with the living.

I know a photo canvas isn't everyone's cup of tea but you can do them online, choose your own pics & choose the arrangement.

If you do want a watercolour then instead of them all standing together like a school photo, I'd put in some kind of barrier that makes it clear the dead are happy where they are & still feel a connection with the living. So have the dead standing apart but looking/smiling towards the children for example.

Trickydecision Sun 06-Mar-16 09:36:09

I think it is a lovely idea. So will you assemble various photos and get the artist to amalgamate them?

Hardly in the same league, but when we left our last much loved house, we commissioned a painting of us all in the garden. Darling dog had died, but we asked the artist to include him via photos. Glad we did.

ClashCityRocker Sun 06-Mar-16 09:52:36

Personally, I'd find it a bit creepy - but I cannot really articulate why.

Might it be upsetting for your dad? You know, in a 'this is what they could have had' sort of way? My dh lost his mum a few years ago and doesn't like her photos on display as it upsets him, but presumably you'd know if your dad felt the same way.

Like the idea of a photo collage.

liz70 Sun 06-Mar-16 09:53:16

" posing the dead & photographing them with the living."

Apparently that's an urban/internet myth. The only photos of deceased people actually tend to show them obviously deceased - lying on beds, with flowers surrounding, or in coffins, sometimes - if babies or small children - held by parents. But standing, sitting etc. - no, they're alive. It was common to use stands with neck, waist clamps etc. simply to help hold the (living) subject still, in order to avoid motion blurring with the long exposure times. It's not a corpse propped up with eyes held open with match sticks. Just to clear up that misconception. I know it's everywhere on the web but like a lot of things one reads online it is, I believe, cobblers.

My thoughts on the watercolour - I was about to suggest a tableaux of individual portraits rather than a fake "group" portrait, but then I read MidnightVelvet's idea, and I think that sounds perfect, really apt IMO.

Sgtmajormummy Sun 06-Mar-16 09:53:21

It would be more sympathetic if you get old photos cleaned up and printed by a professional photographer, have a group photo of the living taken by the same photographer and then maybe choose a similar style frame for each, living and dead. Different frames instead of a montage.

You'd also have a thoughtful gift for the other side of your family.

Life goes on and one generation succeeds the next. There's no use pretending it doesn't.

ClashCityRocker Sun 06-Mar-16 09:55:54

Oh that is interesting liz have to admit I find the purported photos morbidly fascinating - although I think most Victorian era photos have a corpse like vibe to them.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 06-Mar-16 10:01:50

I'm in the morbid camp.

To me a portrait in watercolour should have live people. I loved my deceased dm very very much, but if I opened a painting of her I think it would creep me out. I would think of her not being here to pose for it. It's sort of ghostly.

Some sort of photo collage would be better I think.

pinkcan Sun 06-Mar-16 10:03:20

Sgtmajormummy's idea is better IMO. There is something creepy about people being in a picture together when they weren't alive at the same time.

steppedonlego Sun 06-Mar-16 10:05:54

I like Sgt. Majors idea a lot, if we lived closer together then it would be something I'd definately try, but we're flung all over the country at the moment. I might shelve that idea and have it done for a more significant birthday.

Bardolino Sun 06-Mar-16 10:16:13

I like the idea of a photo montage, perhaps using a multi-aperture frame? My Mum's done something like that: photos of great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and children in a fancy photo frame. Photos clearly taken at different times but grouped in one multi-aperture frame.

Iguessyourestuckwithme Sun 06-Mar-16 10:22:36

What about "painting" a family tree so by each name a small sketch of the person

Goingtobeawesome Sun 06-Mar-16 10:24:19

I think a multi section frame with a photo of each generation in it would be better. I think a painting of something that never happened is a bit creepy, sorry. And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, I know plenty of paintings are done of made up things but this is different.

Inertia Sun 06-Mar-16 10:27:10

What about making a photobook which includes photographs of his late family? You can include lots of photos of different happy events.

If you're going to go with a watercolour, I would just go with a picture of the living family members.

firesidechat Sun 06-Mar-16 10:28:08

I'm not sure whether it's morbid or not, but I wouldn't want it myself. I agree that a family tree would be a nicer idea. It acknowledges the relationships without trying to rewrite history.

cosytoaster Sun 06-Mar-16 10:37:16

I'd hate it although I can't quite say why. Think the suggestion of a photobook is a good one

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sun 06-Mar-16 10:37:41

It would depend on how you did the grouping, I think.

When my Mum died, DS1 was still in utero, so he never met her. However, before we left the UK, Dad decided he wanted a group photo of all of us siblings and our children - no issue with that - but then he had a photo of Mum photoshopped into the group as well. I don't like it, I didn't want a copy of it, because it's slightly creepy - and it would confuse the hell out of any future generations!
He had an alternative version done, with the group as was, but with Mum inset in a portrait style in the corner - didn't mind that one so much, tribute to her but without the slight creepiness of pretending she was still alive. So I have a copy of that one.

So what I'm saying is - if you do the group, my recommendation to reduce creepiness would be to have the no-longer-with-us members of your family placed elsewhere in the painting than in among the living members. Maybe in a corner, or overhead, or in a frame within the main picture.

Whotookmyruler Sun 06-Mar-16 10:46:50

Sorry but I think it might be a bit morbid. How about nice photos of the family (still living)

EasyToEatTiger Sun 06-Mar-16 10:47:31

When you are re-imaginging dead people, at what point in their lives would you want to represent them? It is entering the world of fantasy. There are artists who would do this well or you could end up with a bit of kitsch. I agree that a photomontage might be more appropriate.

Whotookmyruler Sun 06-Mar-16 10:48:03

Photo montage is also a lovely idea

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Sun 06-Mar-16 10:50:49

A family tree with thumbnail portraits, beautifully done, would be a lovely gift.

PacificDogwod Sun 06-Mar-16 10:53:37

I like SgtMajor's idea a lot.
Not sure about having the living and at the dead in one image tbh.

My great-grandfather died in WW1 and never met his younger son.
There is a photograph of my great-grandmother in her widow's clothes with her 2 sons and her husband somehow added to the side (no idea how that would have been done several decades ago). He is in his uniform and the photo of him was taking when he enlisted. It is the only photo that exists of all four of the family and I remember being really fascinated by it as a child. And I can understand how at a time when there were only very few photographs of people this seemed like a good thing to do, but I now think it's a bit creepy tbh.

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