Saturday, 28 September 2013

Before I Die...

What do you want to achieve before you die?

I only ask because I was on my way to meet a friend last week, and came across this interesting Before I Die... installation. The graphic qualities of the old shopfront caught my eye, and on closer inspection, I saw the shop front had been painted with blackboard paint, and the words Before I Die... stencilled in rows. There were sticks of chalk available for anybody to write in the spaces what they hoped to achieve before they die.

I was intrigued and loved some of the responses which ranged from the sad/poignant to the very funny. 

We wandered a little further and came across another Before I Die... site, again plastered with the hopes and dreams ordinary members of the public want to achieve before they die. 

I looked up Before I Die... online and found the website, background story, and what a worldwide phenomenon the Before I Die... installations/movement is becoming. The creator of Before I Die... describes her story thus:-

"It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. After I lost someone I loved very much, I thought about death a lot. This helped clarify my life, the people I want to be with, and the things I want to do, but I struggled to maintain perspective. I wondered if other people felt the same way. So with help from old and new friends, I painted the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.
It was an experiment and I didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was bursting with handwritten responses and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, eat a salad with an alien, see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, straddle the International Date Line, be completely myself…  People’s responses made me laugh out loud and they made me tear up. They consoled me during my toughest times. I understood my neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded me that I’m not alone as I try to make sense of my life."
Read more about it here

I think the Before I Die... installations are a brilliant idea and they remind me of the Postsecret postcards phenomena which I'm also a fan of, that has been running for years. The two Before I Die... examples I came across are in the London Bridge/Borough area of London. I would love to know if anybody else has come across any other Before I Die... sites in London, or other cities across the UK.