Vie et Mort Collection Talk

Vie et Mort Collection Talk

Posted by Robyn Wall on

Read time: 6 min

Bonjour et bienvenue!

"Hello and welcome"

My name is Robyn, and I create weird, magical artwork for your eclectic spaces. If you have been searching for that sensational statement piece that is sure to make a sublime impression, I have just the thing for you.

The newest collection to grace my online store Vie et Mort!

This mixed media adventure began at the beginning of 2021 when I came across a lovely artist, The Fairy Door Shop, which creates simple, elegant, gothic home décor using lace and REAL bugs. The artist inspired me, a fire ignited, and I was in love with the idea of working with bugs. 

As some of you may know, I have a fascination with the balance of life and death and this collection explores that relationship through the idea that Life and Death are mythical beings. This is not a foreign concept, but it is a story which develops through these pieces that I hope will resonate with you.

Let me paint a scene in your minds eye.

Life and death sit under a willow tree on a soft summer evening

Live asked death,

“Why do people love me, but hate you?”

Death replied,

“Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.”

And so, to help sustain the beautiful lie that is life, I am pleased to pledge $10 from the sale of every piece in this collection to the Bee Girl Organization, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "educate and inspire communities to conserve bees, their flowers, and our countryside".  

Now let us begin this journey through my story of

Life and Death.


Reaching for Life

Life visits Death in many forms

His hand outstretched,

Death reaches for Life.

“Not yet, my friend”

Encouraging her to fly.

I was compelled to buy loose butterfly wings. I don’t know why exactly as I have most commonly seen them used to make jewelry, and that is not the type of art I make. But sorting through them, I discovered that some of them matched and got the idea to attach the wings to a butterfly body that was painting on the image.

My favorite part of this piece is the depth in the hand. The way the fingers get darker and seemingly further away.

This piece is 8x10 inches and features three “loose” butterfly wings. Loose meaning that they are not attached to the original body of a butterfly.


Deaths Collection I

Life and Death have been in love

for longer than we have words to describe.

Life sends countless gifts to Death

and Death keeps them forever.

Stored away in little glass jars

His apothecary grows

As soon as I ordered my first specimens, I knew I wanted to display some of them in apothecary jars. I learned to paint glass jars when I took an Intro to Studio Art class a couple of years ago, so the image of my mixed media inside of a painted jar excited me.

Plus, I find the different shapes and sizes of apothecary jars to be extremely charming.

Like with many of my pieces, Deaths Collection did not start with any kind of plan. I found a reference photo of a fun shaped jar to paint from. After that, I had to choose a bug that would fit comfortably within the confines of the jar which didn’t leave many options. Luckily, I had this beautiful blue-black dragonfly that was small enough. Then, the idea of a mossy terrarium-type jar came to mind with a branch of flowers for the dragonfly to perch on.

This piece is 11x14 inches, features a black and blue dragonfly from Indonesia, Spanish moss, and pink larkspur flowers.


Deaths Collection II

Life sends countless gifts to Death

and Death keeps them forever.

Death cherishes

The gifts that Life sends.

He places them on display

To remember that she thinks of him.

This piece was a bit of a challenge. It started off much like its brother above, painting from a reference photo of a jar I liked, and then I added some crystals. I did imagine that there would be a bug crawling over the crystals when I started. However, after I completed the painting portion of this piece, I discovered I did not have any specimens that went well with the color pallet!

I never need much of an excuse to buy new fun art things, though. A tiny blue and green weevil beetle was bought specifically for Deaths Collection II. Click on the title link to view the close-up photo of the beetle on the original product page.

This piece is 11x14 inches and features an apothecary jar nestled among some Spanish moss with a tiny blue and green weevil beetle from Indonesia inside. 


Life Bringers

Death honors

The life bringers

The busy little bees

Carrying the weight of the world

From one place to the next

Bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem. We all know it, even Death. He admires the hard work of these tiny creatures and all the gifts they create.

These beautiful little bees came to me from a family friend who keeps bees. I mentioned I would like to honor the beautiful creatures in my work, so they gifted me a couple of bees that had died naturally along with some unused honey comb. I think their death was well served, don't you? Close-up photos of the bees can been seen on the original product page, just click the link above. 

This piece is 8x10 inches and features three honey bees and two honeycombs.


Examining Life


Death takes a good long look 

At what Life has created 

And decides

To let it keep living

The excitement I felt to work with this cicada was not something I could contain. From the moment I saw it online to holding the little guy in my hands, I was practically jumping up and down. It’s the red-orange color of the wings, which is perfectly complemented by pearl emerald green gouache and some dried ferns that got me so excited.

This magnificent specimen has a wingspan of 6inches! So, you know, not so little. Lol.

But it fits just inside the 8x10 inch shadowbox.


Pulling Strings

Behind the scenes,

No one sees


Pulling strings

Death has a brother, his name is Grief. After Death visits, Grief often sneaks in to play his little games. He manipulates Life like a puppet, pulling the strings attached to its wings.

This is my absolute favorite piece. Aesthetically but also because of its story, its meaning.

A pink and purple mother-of-pearl butterfly from Madagascar in an 8x8 inch shadowbox.


It All Melts Away

Death is a fickle foe

The pain it brings

Comes in waves.

But when we are reminded,

What it means to live

It all melts away

If only for a second, Death wears the mask of Life, and for that fleeting moment, the pain is gone. We forget to wallow in our loss by taking a moment to enjoy the things we still have.

I wanted this piece to represent how the shadow of Death is always present, we never forget the things or the people we have lost, but it is still acceptable to embrace Life as it is now.

This piece features five loose butterfly wings which create the mask of Life. One of of my smallest pieces, it is only 5x7 inches.


Letting Go

It’s hard

Being the one to leave.

It’s hard

Realizing those you loved

Are better if you

Let go.

Because Death will consume Life

If you hold on too long. 

The magic of letting go surrounds the hands of Death. Life flies free in the form of a yellow and black swallowtail.

Letting Go was the very first piece I created in this collection and represents the moment you decide to stop letting Death and Grief and Loss control your Life.

It features a yellow and black swallowtail butterfly from California inside a 12x12 inch shadowbox.

This is the story of Life and Death thus far. Will there be more? Well, the journey can never truly come to an end….
If you like these pieces, make sure you check out their product page to snag one as your own. 

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