Tender Ruin: Nathan Beard’s Poignant Photographs Appear in Elephant’s New Print Issue

The artist recounts the story of his mother’s funeral in this moving portfolio of images taken from Elephant Spring Summer 22

“On the morning of 8 September, 2019 I was woken by a phone call informing me that my mother had passed away suddenly at her home in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand…” Within 24 hours, Nathan Beard was travelling from his home in Australia to attend her funeral. As he did so, he set out to record the traditions surrounding death in Thailand at the same time as capturing his own emotional response to her passing.




“As a longtime collaborator and subject of my work, I buried the immediacy of this trauma behind a desire to build an archive of this indescribable creative and personal shift in my life,” he recalls in the magazine. The result is a passionate insight into one culture’s attitude to death, as well as a moving tribute to Beard’s love for his mother.

The piece is shot through with incredibly moving snapshots, none greater though than the moment when Beard and his brother decide to paint their mother’s nails one last time with the vibrant red colours she adored. “My brother and I were granted this final act of intimacy,” Beard recalls. “I was told not to let my tears fall on her body, lest it cause her spirit to become restless…”

All images © Nathan Beard


Elephant Spring Summer 2022

Pre-order now exclusively via Elephant Kiosk