Artist Creates Portraits of Dead People Using Their Own Remains


‘I use a beautiful wooden board on which I apply a layer of beeswax, and then I position each tiny particle of ash one by one using the tip of a scalpel.

It is more similar to the traditional mosaic process than to painting, a lot of discrete and minute actions rather than the fluid and often rapid motions of painting.

The ashes, which consist entirely of bone, are one colour, so I make different shades of grey by also employing birch coal – the tree as symbol of life – and white marble dust, as a symbol for death.’


Heide Hatry, 51, who lives in New York, has been commemorating lost loved ones with cremation portraits since 2008.

To create the likeness of the deceased, the German artist adds the ashes, piece by piece to layers of wax.

Heide said: ‘I was in a terrible state of grief because a close friend, who I had no idea was in such distress, had just committed suicide.

‘It not only devastated me but also brought back all the unresolved pain I had felt over my father’s death fifteen years earlier.