Exhibition marks week that Matters

Rankin's exhibition at the Storey, Lancaster and  inset, special guest Lesley Bostock.
Rankin's exhibition at the Storey, Lancaster and inset, special guest Lesley Bostock.

We all die. Fact. But we don’t really want to think about it. Editor NICOLA ADAM reports on a very special week that aims to get people thinking about their final wishes before it is too late

I’m on a bus. It is the Last Bus so the sunshine pouring on to Morecambe’s stunning bay seems somewhat incongruous.

But as we discuss our top five things to do before we die, it is laughter, not sadness that accompanies this potentially grimmest of topics.

I’m on an old-fashioned red double decker bus, dubbed The Last Bus, on my way to the Storey Institute to see an exhibition by world famous photographer Rankin as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 12-28).

This free exhibition, a coup for Lancaster in itself, is part of a series of events being held locally by Lancaster Dying Matters Partnership, a group made up of colleagues from local charities including St John’s Hospice, Lancaster University and NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and many of whom are on this bus. This year’s theme is: ‘You only live once’.

Rankin is well known for his work including cover shoots for Q Magazine, Elle and Vanity Fair as well as shooting for Hugo Boss and Rolls Royce.

This exhibition ‘Alive: In the Face of Death’, previously shown in London’s Walker Gallery, explores and challenges perceptions of death by telling the story of those who have been touched by death and focusing on their determination to live the lives they have.

It is real, shockingly so, but not depressing in the least, a theme which Rankin portrays through enigmatic captured images of his studies – they are all dying but so are we. Put simply it makes you think.

Making the exhibition even more compelling is the presence of Lesley Bostock, special guest for the day’s events.

Photographed to stunning effect by Rankin, the beautiful Lesley who was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2011, has refused to let cancer – now in her bones, lungs and shoulder – hinder her in any way.

“I’m much more glamorous now,” she tells a rapt audience of bus passengers. “I refuse to accept the doctors telling me I’m going to die. I’m very much living.” And she is.

Her personality has been captured to incredible effect by Rankin, but it is the real living Lesley that dominates the room. She is a force to be reckoned with. And very much alive, in the face of death.