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OCCUPATION: Taxidermist – Death&Glory Taxidermy
LOCATION: Bristol, England
TOTAL NUMBER OF TAXIDERMY PIECES: About 15 (four are in progress)
FAVOURITE PIECE: The 130 year old birds my mum and dad bought me for Christmas last year. They birds both died on the day their owner got married. She thought it was some kind of omen and had them mounted.
What was your very first piece of taxidermy? The first piece I owned was a piece I made myself. I keep Rhino beetles and when my first pair passed away I preserved them and bejeweled them for an art show I was involved with.
Where do you find pieces for your collection? Ebay, gifts from friends, junk shops. I also make a lot myself.
Where do you display your taxidermy? I’m living with my parents at the moment so they are confined to my room. They don’t mind some bits but I can appreciate that it’s not to everyone’s taste.
How or when did you become interested in taxidermy? I’ve always been interested in it. When I was little we would often visit our local museum which still has a massive antique taxidermy collection. I’ve always loved it.
What do you think taxidermy is? Art? Souvenir? Kitsch? Nature? Taxidermy is different things to different people. People like Damien Hurst and Polly Morgan have really dragged it into the public eye as a high art form but I have to admit that my heart belongs to Walter Potter and the more kitsch idea of anthropomorphic taxidermy.
Do any pieces have names? My beetles have names but that’s because they were previously well loved pets. The bejeweled ones are called Frank and Bertie. I’ve got a little blue tit that has been stuffed really badly. I felt sorry for him so I gave him a home. I think he deserves a nice name at some point.
Have you ever prepared a taxidermy mount? Yes, I am a taxidermist and have just started up my new company Death&Glory.My first commission was a beloved hamster who had been in the freezer for 2 years waiting to be mounted. I had to custom make a hat, scarf, glasses and leather moccasins for him. Now Mr.Pookie will be warm and cozy for all eternity.
I recently mounted a mouse wearing a tiny bowler hat and smoking a pipe onto an adult sized bowler hat.It was my present for the secret santa at work.The recipient was very happy. Phew!
I’ve got a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline for 2012 but my mum has banned me from stock piling dead stuff in the freezer so I’ll have to mount what’s in there first before I get carried away.
Do you worry about displaying so much death... that is, do you ever get negative reactions to your collection? I don’t really see it as death. It’s just the outside of the animal. Like leather or sheep skin. I think all the death leaves it when you skin it.
I’m lucky that my friends, family and fiance are all really supportive. A surprising number of them say they would love me to mount something for them. One of my friends has even asked to come and watch me skin my next animal.
Why do you think taxidermy is back in fashion? I think it’s back in fashion because it really encapsulates the vibe of the era of curiosity shops, side shows and wonder. It’s an era of real craftsmanship and magic that’s an amazing antidote to the modern, slick, super efficient, technology driven world we currently live in. Long live the past!
If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why? I’d either be a bird because who doesn’t want to fly? Or a crab because they’re my favourite animal.