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Meet the Woman Who Makes Death Masks

Friday March 23, 2018 Written by

On the Sunday we spend filming Dr Pia Interlandi in her Melbourne home studio, Vicki Barry comes by to have a meeting about the burial shroud Interlandi is designing for her, and to have a cast made of her hand. Barry has come all the way from Perth for this. She's pragmatic about where to from here, explaining that she's approaching her 60th. On the cusp of "the final trimester" of her life, she wants to get her affairs in order. And that includes an upcoming birthday party where she will give her family and friends the opportunity to write a message onto the beautiful shroud that she plans to be buried in, and which Interlandi's about to start work on. 

"This certainly wasn’t something I imagined doing, as a small child!" Interlandi explains. Before she helped prepare her nonno for burial, Interlandi had never seen a dead body before. She'd watched "a lot of zombie flicks and CSI and Six Feet Under," but none of that prepared her for what she describes simply as "the stillness".

In the film above, Interlandi talks about why she's so passionate about creating new, meaningful rituals around death. 

"The practice has been born out of a need to encourage people to dress their dead, but to do so with dignity and elegance and ease," she explains. "It really does change the way that you move forward in bereavement, knowing that you’ve done all these final acts of love for someone."

You can read our feature-length profile on Interlandi in volume 26 of Smith Journal. Find your nearest stockist, or subscribe from $11.95.