The beginning of my Photography domain.

Primary Research: Gregg Gavin – At Canley Crematorium

Last Wednesday I took upon research into crematoriums in and around the Coventry area, to which I came across one in Canley. I then decided to send out an email to the bereavement services of Coventry and this would then hopefully reach places such as Canley and others around the area. I would fortunate enough to receive a phone call the very next day from Gregg Gavin, who was one of the gentleman in charge at Canley Crematorium, of its everyday amenities. I then arranged to meet him for a short interview on the process of a funeral and other questions I felt both appropriate and relevant to ask around the concept of what ‘physically’ happens to peoples bodies when they die and are bought to the crematorium.


This above was the overall outcome I wanted to get out of meeting Gavin and discussing this particular subject, but I also had 5 planned questions I felt interest in myself and that would create a basis for the interview.

1) What actually happens at the funeral parlour; before, during and after?

2) What do the family members of the deceased tend to ask of you?

3) Are there any particular objects used during the service?

4) How do you deal with your emotions that comes with the sincerity of your job?

5) What are your opinions/beliefs on what happens when you die?

Some aspects of the first questions didn’t apply as he explained, as their job is to take on board the instructions from the funeral directors as they deals with the beginning process. He although could not answer the full of the question at hand, was helpful in a different way in given me further leads into people and places that would in fact answer this question. Funeral directors in Coventry that would help me included;

– Hacketts and Sons; a funeral directors in Coventry who I have emailed for a possible meeting to follow up more primary research and possible leads to subjects to photograph.

– Pargettors ^^ same preference.

He also informed me of a Muslim Resource Centre on Red Lane. He felt this relevant as I mentioned I wanted my photography piece to be partly consistent of cultural opinions on death. I plan to ring this resource centre to see if anyone would be accepted into talking to me about their beliefs and so on.

In reference to question 3,  Gavin told me of certain memento’s people have asked for in the past, which some we rather interesting requests of being personal such as; superman costumes, balloons and bagpipes. Others were a general normality that carried some form of symbolism, like 3 doves which has reference to religion. When looking at equipment used, he informed me that if differs from cremation and burial. There was also the brief explaining of exhumation, which occurs when someone wants to move the body of the deceased somewhere else for different reasons, or even for a police investigation.

When asked question 4, his answer was thought provoking. As he used the example of it being hard to deal with the death of a child, and families going through that particular grief is hard. Also when someone can’t afford a funeral for their loved one is also a hard aspect of the job he does.

Lastly question 5, in which I was hoping to get an answer to the most as it’s the question I am basing my project around really. He answer was thoughtful yet hard for me to imagine in the prospect of it being captured in a photograph. He said that with the job he has, to which he has had for just over 2 years now he no longer really holds an opinion as to what happens when he dies. As because of the job he entails, he feels that’s what’s gone is gone and that’s it is just a natural process of life. He also said whatever would be easiest on his family, which gave me the inkling that he cared more about how they would feel and be, rather than what had naturally happened to him.

Overall I feel this visit was really beneficial on my behalf, even if he couldn’t answer the questions as in depth as I would have liked. He instead helpful still, directed me to places and people that could, leads I probably didn’t know myself, so now I have further knowledge on how I will further conduct my research.

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2014 by in Final Media Productions.
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