Southbank show for Crazy Coffins

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A CASKET-making firm in Bulwell, known as Crazy Coffins, is laying on an exhibition in London as part of a weekend of events exploring death.

Vic Fearn and Co, of Crabtree Mill, Hempshill Lane, has been running since 1870 and produces up to 10,000 coffins a year from its Bulwell base and a factory on the Isle Of Wight.

Although the firm produces a high number of traditional-style coffins, its Crazy Coffins subsidiary is renowned for designing bespoke caskets to very specific requests.

Recent orders include coffins shaped like narrowboats, cars and train carriages, as well as a beer bottle for the former owner of a brewery on the Isle of Wight.

Now the company’s unusual enterprise is being exhibited at The Southbank Centre as part of the three-day festival this weekend, which examines attitudes towards death and why people are so reticent to talk about it.

Vic Fearn’s managing director, David Crampton, says he feels privileged to be part of such an exhibition and is urging as many people as possible to come along and get involved.

“We’re just a small firm in Bulwell, so to be part of such a spectacular and special exhibition is fantastic,” he said.

“The organisers were looking on the Internet for coffins but wanted something unusual, which is how they came across us and now we are going to be one of the main attractions.

“The exhibition will instigate people’s thought on funerals and give people more thoughts about pre-planning what they would like at a funeral, as well as how it can be a celebration of life.

“There is so much going on including music, poetry and readings, as well as a wall where you can write the names of loved ones and 90% of what is on is free.”

Jude Kelly, the Southbank Centre’s artistic director, insisted the three-day festival was not morbid but life-affirming, and said she is even expecting moments of laughter.

“There is much about our common humanity that we acknowledge, share and celebrate, so why are we reluctant to face up to the very thing that, in the end, unites us all?” she said.

“In the way that a fitting memorial service or a well-observed wake can serve as a life-affirming relief from grief’s dead hand, we hope that our new festival can begin to allow some light onto a subject that is too often consigned to the shadows.”

n OUR PHOTO shows Mr Crampton with some of the unusual caskets created by Crazy Coffins