Pentimenti exhibition at Cedar Hill Arts Centre (June 28 to July 28, 2023)

 on April 30, 2023


Pentimenti — Ceramic funeral vessels as biographies of spiritual homecomings

Cedar Hill Arts Centre, Saanich, BC, June 28 to – July 28, 2023


What is pentimento? The word has a long history of religious association, taken from the Italian, pentirsi, to repent (Pentimenti pl). In art history, the word pentimento is used in oil painting to refer to the reappearance of original elements (a sketch or underpainting) that the artist tried to obliterate by over-painting, either for stylistic reasons or due to a changed social and political context. More recently, in the field of biography, the concept of pentimento has been taken up in a new way to describe how memories of early life experience may return unexpectedly as a person ages.


As a maker of ceramic funeral vessels and with an interest in the spiritual life and anthropology, I am inspired by the artistic challenge of expressing the phenomenon of pentimento in surface treatment and ceramic glaze as a response to personal histories. The biographies accompanying the urns included here come from a variety of personal testimonies of spiritual or religious pentimenti at the end of life.

This project’s exploration into the ceramic urn’s capacity for symbolic expression references the lost arts of both funeral ware and of dying in different religious traditions and spiritual practices. It aims to promote in the observer a gentle reflection on what might constitute a meaningful death, even, and perhaps especially, if spiritual suffering is involved.

The artist will be on site at the Cedar Hill Arts Centre on Saturday, July 22 from 2 to 4 p.m.



Holly Ratcliffe
2022-2023 artist-in-residence at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society (CSRS), UVic

  • Faith Tides

    Faith Tides exists to explore God’s vision for Renewed Hearts, Renewed Spirits and Renewed People in the Diocese of Islands and Islets, home to approximately 6,000 Anglicans worshiping in 46 worshipping communities across coastal BC.

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