Victoria Spence

The Picnic Among Friends | 2024

Picnic Among Friends Ceremony, 2010. Photo by Mayu Kanamori
Picnic Among Friends Ceremony, 2010. Photo by Mayu Kanamori
The Picnic Among Friends. @ Pine Forest
The community memorial Picnic Among Friends offers new ways to gather to remember those we love who are no longer living. To come together into a safe and communal space in which we can bring creative and personal expression to love, loss and remembering.The Picnic Among Friends was a yearly event that ran for a decade in Sydney, from 2010-2019. For Cementa, it is offered to the festival participants, the local communities and artists as a space for breath, reflection and creative engagement. It honours love and loss, and the story tellers and story holders of Kandos and surrounding districts.


Victoria Spence has been working as an artist, cultural producer, and Life Rites practitioner since 1988. She has made work in Live Art at the intersections of cultural, contemporary, community and creative arts practice as a performer, dramaturg, curator and producer. In 2010, as part of the Connections’ residency, she established the not-for-profit organisation Living with our Dead, resulting in the project, Picnic Among Friends a yearly event from 2010-2019 in Girrahween Park, Earlwood, which continues to be seeded in communities across NSW and Australia. Alongside her artist at large, mentor and ceremonial practice, she is the founder of Life Rites, Holistic Funeral Directors specialising in bespoke doula-led end-of-life, funeral and ongoing bereavement care in the greater Sydney area.


As an artist, performer and mentor, I work with people who are exploring relationships of power in how they make their work and how they engage with their audiences’. As a dramaturg, I work to ensure that the signifiers of meaning in non-narrative, image-based performance works convey the necessary nuance and clarity that are intended. As a ceremonialist, I work with people at the significant events of their lives, with a particular focus on mortality. I work with death; in all the ways it arrives and with after death and funeral care: accompanying, leading and following people as they move through these times, reinvigorating them as rites of passage and thresholds of potent presence and creativity.

Materials | ceremony and community gathering
Location | Pine Forest

Initiating Artists and Cementa team are Clytie Smith, Julieanne Pierce and Annette Tesoriero.