Check out this new book on the Victorian obsession with bottling nature up under glass. John Whitenight, a passionate collector of Victoriana, began collecting glass domes in 1973, and this book relishes in the result. With 650 images, the book explores not just taxidermy under glass but seashell works, wax flowers and fruit, art formed from human hair, skeleton leaves and phantom bouquets, wool work, and automata – including a monkey who smokes a cigarette!
For more information: http://www.underglassavictorianobsession.com/index.html
Klaus Pichler's photo book SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET is now available for sale!
Shot between 2009-2012, the photo series focuses on the backstage of the Natural History Museum of Vienna, including storage rooms, basements and depots. 'Skeletons in the closet' is a collection of sometimes absurd sceneries and strange still lives, accompanied by written reflections on the bloody past of natural history museums.
The harbound book includes 63 images and is limited to 750 copies. Pictures by Klaus Pichler with texts by Julia Edthofer, Herbert Justnik and Klaus Pichler. To buy and for more details:
A nice little piece about taxidermied horses from CNN's website:
"Horsey!" scream the children staring in awe at the glossy chestnut thoroughbred towering above them.Their tiny hands press against the glass encasing Australia's most beloved race horse -- Phar Lap.
But despite their excited squealing and impatient jostling, the impressive 1.74-meter tall gelding will never lower his glassy stare in their direction. He'll never twitch his ears, flick his tail, or gallop down the race track with the remarkable speed which made him a national hero during the darkest days of the 1930s Depression.
Phar Lap has been dead for 81 years.
His body however, looks barely a day over six-years-old, frozen in time thanks to taxidermy -- the art of stuffing animal skins for display.
Göta's World has moved. If you happen to be in Helsinki, you can find them in Tarkk'ampujankatu 4. Göta's World is the only natural history oriented antique shop in Scandinavia. Located in the heart of Helsinki, this odd antique store sells natural history items, curious antique pieces and other oddities. Bestsellers are skulls, ragged taxidermy pieces, medical antique, shells, and bits and pieces of death memorabilia. They buy their items from private collectors, garage sales, and auctions and also do repair work on decrepit and torn taxidermy mounts and broken skeletons. You'll also find various other oddities such as 1800-century rustic houshold items, insect etchings from the end of 1700-century and religious antique pieces.
I received this letter the other day from someone with an extreme phobia of taxidermy. Does anyone else run from taxidermy? I would run from this guy. But in all seriousness, any advice for Amelia?
"Hello, my name is Amelia, I am 18 years old. I go to Emmanuel College in Boston. I wanted to talk to you about my extreme fear of taxidermy. I was wondering if you have ever heard of this? It seems a lot of people contact you with feelings of taxidermy, positive or negative. When I see taxidermy I get severe panic attacks. I have no idea why. It started when I was 4 and I don't remember a point in my life when I wasn't scared of taxidermy. Its lead to extreme paranoia, I wont go near any "steak house" or western themed places. And I have missed out on school field trips all of my life due to this fear. I was wondering if you have heard of other people who have this fear? And if you knew anyone who has gotten over this."
Perhaps you've already heard of AMC's new show Immortalized. Premiering Thursday February 14th for all you lonely hearts, the show is an unscripted dive into the world of competitive taxidermy.
According to website, "each episode will feature one of four highly regarded "Immortalizers" facing off against a "Challenger" in a competition. Their task is to create a piece to be judged on three criteria: originality, craftsmanship and interpretation of the designated theme. Whether the artists are known for their classic or rogue creations, each week they will work to perfect this centuries-old art form in an unprecedented battle." For a quick peak, here is the trailer:
For more on the show, visit AMC's website here: http://www.amctv.com/shows/immortalized
With a name that smacks of an Old West movie, check out Brooke Weston's strange twist on the inner world of trophy mounts. The Oregon-based artist works with recycled taxidermy and other found materials to create miniature dioramas in the heads hunting tropies. On her website, she writes that she gathers inspiration from fairy tales, and you can tell. For all the supposed sweetness of a cosy miniature abode, the little worlds have a darkly creepy aura. Who lives here?
Check out Weston's website here: http://artbybrookeweston.com/index.html
Laurie Young just sent me this great trailer for her perfromance installation created in the Naturkundemuseum, Berlin.
Here's how Young describes the work:
"After looking back on the 200-year history of the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin) and likewise into the history of science, the art project Natural Habitat ventures a look into the future. What could our world look like in 200 years? Amidst a post-apocalyptic, surreal desert landscape, a woman (Homo Sapiens) finds herself surrounded by survivors belonging to other species. Both as the observer and the observed, she interacts with the animals that surround her and the changing conditions of her habitat. In the form of a “cultural field study”, the participants take up scientific findings as inspiration. For this purpose the project uses a classical medium of communication techniques employed by the scientific museum: a life size Diorama is constructed, exhibited and brought to life. In this way, the visitor becomes the observer and recognizes him/herself as contributing to processes of change. Natural Habitat can be experienced as an installation as well as a sixty-five minute performance. English and German versions are available."
Here's a grim little article about the sad afterlives of animals at the Khan Younus zoo in the Gaza Strip.
Owner Mohammad Awaida said he opened the "South Forest Park" in 2007, only to lose a number of animals during Israel's military offensive against Hamas that began in December 2008. During the three-week offensive, launched in response to rocket attacks on Israel, Awaida said he could not reach the zoo, and many animals died of neglect and starvation.
"The idea to mummify animals started after the Gaza war because a number of animals like the lion, the tiger, monkeys and crocodiles died," he said. "So we asked around and we learned from the web how to start."
Formaldehyde and sawdust provided the basic tools, though Awaida acknowledges he is no expert.
I just came across this article in Lens Magazine:
Klaus Pichler was wandering home from a bar one morning when he noticed a light coming from a basement window at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History. Even at that hour, he thought, someone was hard at work inside.
But Mr. Pichler didn’t see any people. He saw an antelope.
“It looked really strange and grotesque,” he said.
And it stuck with him. So, the next morning he contacted the museum’s director, who took him on a behind-the-scenes tour. The room he’d seen was the museum’s taxidermy division.
Mr. Pichler was intrigued — and fortunate. For the next three years, the museum let him roam its corridors and workshops, allowing him to capture a backstage view of a highly orchestrated production. The result of his snooping, “Skeletons in the Closet,” appeared at the Delhi Photo Festival in October.
“I really enjoyed knowing that I was alone in the basement with 4,000 stuffed animals,” he said.
Read the whole article here: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/natural-history-not-so-natural-setting/
And check out all of Pichler's series "Skeleton in the Closet" on his website at http://www.kpic.at/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=30&Itemid=53
As part of the exhibition Death, British artist Rose Robson takes up residence at SHOWstudio for two days to showcase her unique take on taxidermy. Drawing inspiration from natural history books, Robson will create a swarm-like sculpture from a range of different bird carcasses. Watch the video of her work from the first cut to the final piece online here: https://showstudio.com/project/death_rose_robson/rose_robson_murder_of_crows
I've talked about the Dutch artist-duo Idiots before, best known for Ophelia the lion that bleeds into blobs of gold. Here is a peak at some of their new work on display at the Kiasma Museum Helsinki Finland.
The documentary series American Hipster Presents has done a video on Beth Beverly, a Philadelphia taxidermist and owner of Diamond Tooth Taxidermy. Miss Beverly fashioned some pretty stunning hats including a chicken hat and a hat with an antler that curves dangerously close to the eye.
Front page of the Huffington Post's culture section -- read the article here +
Thanks to Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant for sending me their documentary video of Steve Massam, chief taxidermist at the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust in Stanley. As Cummins and Gallant write, Massam "sees his work as a means to bring about awareness and understanding of the plight of animal species in this part of the world. If there was one animal he’d have liked to work on that he hasn’t, it would have been a Bee Hummingbird, but his eyesight, he feels is past it now."
See more here: http://51degreessouth.com/no1-steve-the-stuffer/
Check out this charming little film about UK jewellery designer Kate Gilliland. For those of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you'll know all about the new vouge of young British female artists transforming dead animals into beautiful and beloved objects. Most of Kate's work is not taxidermy, but it offers a gentle, precious take on death by gilding little bones, transforming them into tiny treasures.
See more of Kate's work on her website: http://www.kategilliland.com/index.htm