First Darkness

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Posted by Denise Wyllie and Clare O Hagan


The two Artists and filmmakers Wyllie O Hagan (Denise Wyllie and Clare O Hagan) presented their multi-award winning film First Darkness at the Inaugural London Funeral Exhibition 2011 held at Woodland Burial Parks in Epping Forest on the outskirts of London this Summer.

The film forms part of an art exhibition consisting of a moving, beautiful short film, an art book plus a series of landscape pictures. The artists exhibit First Darkness outside of the usual gallery settings in more intimate settings seen by wider audiences. The short 8 minute film is available to be screened at venues such at home or included in a memorial service/ celebration of life event. An accompanying art exhibition is also available for loan or sale.

Artworks make a unique and lasting commemorative gift and the artists have original prints and paintings for sale. People wishing to purchase an artwork to share with their family for a very personal inheritance, contact Clare and Denise via their website.

Denise Wyllie and Clare O Hagan have been able to convey their personal experiences of loss and the love of Nature in this sensitive and powerful group of artworks. The film gives people a way of understanding and coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Clare O Hagan says “our original documentary film ‘First Darkness’ recreates the journey of an artist reconnecting with life after the death of her friend.” Denise Wyllie adds, “We see the sombre mood of the artist depicted in her initial art prints and how this darkness gives way to a ‘new Spring of hope’ as the delicate reviving colours of Nature wash over her paintings.”

Here is an excerpt of the First Darkness film:



First Darkness has been screened at important international film festivals such as Monaco, at the Angel Film Awards, winning Best Art Film and Best Original Music. It was also ‘In Competition’ at the Brazilian ‘Its All True’ documentary film festival in Rio de Janeiro  and Sao Paulo and achieved ‘Special Mention’ at the Asolo Art Film Festival, Italy.

Closer to home there was less red carpet but as much interest and enthusiasm for the screenings at the Inaugural London Funeral Exhibition 2011. The audience at this event were experts in many aspects of funeral management as opposed to film or art critics. The post screening discussions that followed were just as lively and successful, with the audiences covering many new aspects of the issues raised by the film.

After the screenings of the film Clare O Hagan and Denise Wyllie rode with the Paul Foyle’s Ostler Carriage Company who took them for a ride on his rig through the forest. They saw from this high vantage point many of the participating organisations. They rode past Reverend Paul Sinclair on his motorcycle hearse whilst a brass band played to visitors.  Diverse and intriguing exhibition stands lined the route through the forest including Winter Willow, Ecoffins,  information on civil funerals and photographic services by Priscilla Etienne of Funeography.   Clare and Denise waved at fellow participants, Charles Cowling from the Good Funeral Guide and Brian Jenner from the Six Feet Under Convention.

Clare tells the story, ‘In the forest’s late afternoon sunshine, our day’s business being concluded, the coachman, from the Ostler Carriage Company, Paul Foyle, took us for a ride on his rig through the forest. Sitting up high at the front beside Paul Foyle looking over the backs of the two strong white horses you could see a landscape full of light and shade within the forest.

Clare continues, ‘The sun filtered through the trees and fell onto the horses backs, their livery shimmering and tinkling in time to the beat of their hooves. I looked to my side and saw the handsome coachman, resplendent in his cape coat and bowler hat working his horses. We dipped our heads in unison as we pass under low hanging branches. I see Denise smiling broadly. In a forest filled with light, full of joy, my spirit soars and runs with the horses. Then it happened, that fleeting, elusive “being in the moment” moment. Who’d have thought that a screening of our film First Darkness at Epping Woodland Burial Park would have been so exhilarating, so life affirming?

So when I, giddy with excitement, heard the coachman say, “steady on gal”, I asked if he was talking to me or the horses? It wasn’t the horses he was talking to!’

Wyllie O Hagan wish to extend their thanks to the events organisers – Woodland Burial Parks Groups at Epping Forest – for staging the Inaugural London Funeral Exhibition and to congratulate them on a such successful event.

Wyllie O Hagan:

Information about the London Funeral Exhibition 2011



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