The Reclamation is an art series exploring the decomposition of human bodies and the nutrient cycle. Each piece represents a phase of decomposition, from death to dust, and ways nature reclaims our bodies to foster life.


For most, this topic is unsettling and uncomfortable.  I use science to shed light on the importance and complexity of decomposition, and a creative lens to help beautify the subject and engage viewers who might otherwise look away.


By highlighting how life is facilitated by death, I’m hoping we can learn that what we see as an end is actually teeming with potential.

The Reclamation has been featured on The Order of The Good Death, Haute Macabre,  Death/Scent, and Death & The Maiden.

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AJ Hawkins creates death positive fine art to help you live with death. Her work is often interdisciplinary, and in line with pop surrealist and new contemporary portraiture. Her work engages with the challenging and painful parts of being mortal, and ultimately trying to accept death, decay and loss. She is a member of the Order of the Good Death and is owner of death positive lifestyle brand, KALMA.

Phase VI: Adipocere

In particular damp, cool conditions, the fat inside the body can undergo the process of saponification, and become a waxy soap substance called adipocere, or grave wax. If the body is not in the right conditions for adipocere to form, standard decomposition will continue. Tineid moth larvae will eat the hair off of the body, before undergoing metamorphosis. While moths and adipocere would never occur on the same body at the same time, they both represent a similar point in the timeline.