Before you all start screwing your face in disgust at the idea of taxidermy or start raising ethical concerns, read the opening statement on Polly’s site:
All taxidermied animals are either road casualties or have been donated to the artist by pet owners and vets after natural or unpreventable deaths.
Which is to say: no animals were hurt in the making of these works (as they were already dead).
A few months ago, we visited Polly’s studio in east London. This was my first encounter with taxidermy (apart from passing by the “Get Stuffed” shop in Islington on the 73 bus) and I was quite curious to discover more about the technique behind it.
Friendly and approachable, she explained her method of working, her background and her projects, a conversation we continued in the pub afterwards.
One of my favourite pieces were these chicks coming out of a telephone receiver:
Hers is, however, the kind of work that renders much better “in the flesh”: describing it with words or pictures won’t convey its beauty and poetry. Which is why I cannot recommend enough visiting Endless Plains, her current installation at All Visual Arts gallery, close to King’s Cross station, which is on until 31 August. Inspired by a recent visit to the Serengeti, this new exhibition “confronts the viewer with the uncompromising cycle of life; the predator, the parasite and the prey”.
(NB: The tree in “The Fall” is not made of actual “tree” but of fiber glass – it is amazingly real though)
Some of the pieces exhibited were in the making at the time of our studio visit, and it is quite fascinating to observe how they have developed or sometimes just changed completely. This video by the excellent Crane TV gives you a more animated idea of the whole thing.
So, let me say this again: go go go and see the installation, especially if you have doubts about taxidermy. I am pretty sure Polly’s work will win you over.