The market for taxidermy in the UK has really taken off in the past few years. Kate Moss bought some, you see, and now everyone who’s anyone (as well as everyone who is no one) needs an elephant foot umbrella stand, or a guitar playing rat to liven up their home. The UK’s revived love of taxidermy is certainly a breath of fresh air for those that have a thing for the dark and the wonderful. Along with a few amazing specialist taxidermy shops we’ve also seen a new breed of UK Taxidermists.
1. Polly Morgan
Morgan is the poster girl of UK Taxidermists. When your first commission as an artist comes from an already leading artist there’s little chance that any work you produced won’t be shot into the spotlight. In this case it was renowned street artist Banksy who asked the young Polly Morgan to produce taxidermy pieces for one of his own installations. Morgan has been perpetually showing her work since that lucky break back in 2005.
2. Jez Eaton
This superstar UK taxidermist embraces the trend for all things animal. Eaton’s collections include a whole fashion line, Roadkill Couture, which used animal found on the road. Jez Eaton’s take on taxidermy melds elements of the traditional and the bizarre. Her carved skulls, crafted from the donated heads of much loved pets, are a popular choice. The owners can keep a piece of their animal at home with them together. Fans are excited to see what Eaton will have to show at this year’s Brighton Fashion Week in England.
3. Charlie Tuesday Gates
Newly renowned UK Taxidermist Charlie Tuesday Gates not only produces her own work through the medium of taxidermy, she also hosts regular ‘DIY Taxidermy’ events where those interested are invited to get some hands on experience in the mysterious world of animal carnation. She’s another UK Taxidermist who will be showing her face at 2012’s Brighton Fashion Week with a talk. While the artist’s work is not quite ‘decorative’ it is by no means uninteresting.
4. Mike Gadd
It seems that there’s at least one thing that all modern UK taxidermists have in common; they all like to teach and share their trade with the nation. Mike Gadd is no different in that sense. While he takes a more traditional approach to his taxidermy, using birds and small wildlife, he’ll teach his students how to mount a deer’s head.
5. Peter Spicer
Though Peter Spicer is no longer around on the earthly plain, his lifetime’s work has lived on, and there’s no way he could be omitted from a list of the UK’s top taxidermists. Through the 19th and 20th century Spicer ran a taxidermy firm in Leamington Spa, creating his own work, restoring others, and teaching a whole new generation on the art of taxidermy. In honour of his contribution to UK taxidermy Spicer’s work is displayed at Warwickshire Museum.
6. Walter Potter
Again this UK Taxidermist has exited the earth this time back in 1918 but he did leave a rather impressive empire of stuffed animals behind. Potter’s mark was to create unusual scenes using the animals, often squirrels, and to give them props, and character. His whole collection of work was showcased in a single museum before it was split and sold separately in the late 20th century. Damien Hirst offered to buy the collection intact but auctioneers insisted that the original bidders must be allowed their pieces.
7. David Shrigley
This guy has created an art form of taking the macabre and making it magical. One of the most entertaining things about Shrigley’s work is the humorous spin that he likes to put on the subject of death. One of his more recent pieces, for instance, shows a stuffed dog standing up on his hind legs and clutching a placard which declares 'I am dead.'
The trend for UK taxidermy is only set to spiral. Anyone interested in the history of stuffing animals in the UK can find out more at the British Taxidermy Society’s website. Anyone else who is lucky enough to be visiting London anytime soon, maybe for the 2012 Olympics should pop along to the Little Shop of Horrors
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