Photopolymer PrintPoussin/Penance, 201338x28cm

I revisit a print that is seven years old – a restaging of Nicolas Poussin’s ‘Sacrament of Penance’ (1647, Scottish National Gallery). A woman cradles the foot of Christ. In my version the foot is unseen; the woman is my sister, then seventeen. Related textual accounts tell of expensive perfume mingling with tears over that foot – a profusion of complex emotions greeted by societal disdain and the love of God. I can smell the perfume and taste the tears. The hair tangles. Funerals these days are often described as ‘Services of Thanksgiving’. Each life makes its mark and honour is owed. People line streets. Eulogies are spoken to indoor gatherers behind damp masks. There are moments of surprising laughter. Abundant flowers. Here, as in this image, do we witness an outpouring of both sorrow and joy – a ‘sorry’ and a ‘thank you’? Is lamentation a form of praise?