I started looking into artists who worked with taxidermy for contextual research. The artists I were drawn were Harriet Horton and Rose Robson: the former because of here refreshingly modern take on taxidermy (something which I think is generally considered an outdated subject), and the later for her satirical take on taxidermy, mimicking traditional vanitas paintings with a modern sculptural twist.
Harriet Horton is a 33 year-old artist living on the South East Coast in the UK. The largely self-taught practitioner, tired of the traditional presentation of taxidermy, lends the ancient art a surreal and contemporary pop twist. Horton’s approach to taxidermy has always set out to explore animals in a foreign environment from their original habitat. The use of dyes and lighting allow a playful narrative to a medium that sometimes holds a macabre association. It’s this juxtaposition of organic material with neon lighting that has become her signature style.
A Central Saint Martins graduate, Rose Robson’s first introduction to taxidermy consisted of her stuffing her drawings of birds with cotton wool, before skinning her first real animal under the tutelage of taxidermy queen Polly Morgan. She soon booked herself in for a one-day workshop with George Jamieson, and quickly established that her fascination was in the body-less skins. Rather than recreating the animal, therefore, her pieces tend to take the form of sculptural compositions made with the coats of different birds: Robson plays on the way different feathers catch the light to inject a sense of movement to the overall arrangement.