Eco-coffins made of newspaper or wicker may be all very trendy, but that's not going to make you the envy of the cemetery. Ghanaian coffin-maker Paa Joe has a much better idea — a carved wooden coffin that represents your profession, or takes the shape of your most treasured or desired possession — and an exhibition of four of his more outlandish works opens today at Jack Bell Gallery in central London.
The trend is thought to have started in the Fifties with the Ga people of south-east Ghana, as a way of venerating the recently deceased and giving them an appropriate send-off. Therefore a business man might be packed into the white Merc above, a cocoa farmer might get a giant cocoa pod, and a fisherman might be entombed, Jonah-style, in a huge fish (below).
These pictures show the coffins outside the studio of Paa Joe (bottom), who has now become one of the most celebrated coffin-makers in Ghana (his work has already been acquired by the British Museum). If you'd like to see Joe's work, or perhaps be inspired for your own casket — a seven-foot Starbucks cup? A giant iPad? — the exhibition will run until 15 January.
Jack Bell Gallery, 276 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V www.jackbellgallery.com