Sheffield artist hopes new exhibition will get people laughing about grief

22 April 2021

Image: Sophie Shukla and her late father.

Sheffield-based artist Sophie Shukla has claimed she hopes to encourage people to laugh about grief with her new exhibition.

Titled ‘It’s Okay, You Can Laugh’, the exhibition will launch on May 22 and has been advertised with the tagline ‘Bring out your dead, it’s time to party. An art exhibition on grief’.

She said: “Coming out of a year where everyone has felt loss in some form, I figured it was time to discuss grief in an artistic sort of way.

“The main goal of the exhibition is to talk about it in a positive light, that’s why it’s called ‘It’s Okay, You Can Laugh’ because we want to be able to make jokes and maybe use dark humour.”

A postgraduate student at The University of Sheffield, Miss Shukla has drawn on her own personal experiences of grief to produce the exhibition, having lost both her parents.

Miss Shukla, 22, said: “Whenever I tell people about my parents, I get the ‘oh, I’m so sorry’ and the awkwardness, where they don’t know what to say. It gets boring after a while.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying you’re sorry or not knowing what to say, but the whole point is that you don’t have to say anything. If we were to open national conversations about it, we would learn it’s not something that needs to be awkward and unsaid, the elephant in the room.”

Work began on the exhibition during the first lockdown, and Miss Shukla has been aided by her friends on the project. She believes the Covid-19 pandemic has ensured everyone will be able to relate to the exhibition, regardless of whether they have lost a loved one.

She said: “We’ve all been through a national trauma, so even if you had a perfect life with no upset or worries, you will be able to relate to this in some way.”

The promotional poster for the exhibition.

The exhibition will be hosted at Trafalgar Warehouse in Sheffield, and admission is priced at £3. 20 per cent of the proceeds will be donated to The Good Grief Trust, a charity that supports the bereaved in the UK.

Miss Shukla said: “There’s no need to be awkward about grief, it’s a natural part of life. Hopefully, we can just laugh about it, as the title says.”

If you are affected by this story, contact the National Bereavement Partnership helpline on 0800 448 0800.

Tickets are available here.

Written by Tom Coates

Journalism student at The University of Sheffield. Contact me on Twitter (@Tom_C_6) or via e-mail (

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