Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Where would we be without the World Wide Web?......

How to taxidermy a mouse in 27 easy steps!.....
These I hasten to add are mice farmed for the pet industry and more particularly for feeding to reptiles. (They arrived at my door bagged up and in a freezer box).

I could have purchased pinkies, fluffs, small, medium, large and extra large.

These are small and medium, although I'm not sure which is which! For anyone with a yen to stuff their own mouse I wouldn't recommend going much smaller...

Why would you want to stuff a mouse you may wonder...but art takes you to strange places.

It isn't much of a leap from the human remains debate to the more broader consideration of what by-products and remains are acceptable. (Many of us would manage a leather Gucci bag!)

The Victorians, as the Greeks and Romans before them, did not shy away from reminders of their own mortality, memento mori.
....perhaps this was because death was more often amongst them.

For myself, the further removed from the living appearance the remains are, the less any connection is made. Thus scrubbing and bleaching an unidentified cow bone is much easier than peeling the skin from a mouse. Both however unalterably lifeless, yet I feel that at any moment the mouse might squirm beneath my fingers.

I do however have plans for a piece that involves many sleeping mice so the taxidermy must continue. A craft I could never have imagined having need of!
During the nineteenth century, a wall strewn with prepared animals was considered the height of refinement and taxidermy a pleasureable pass time. Indeed Joseph Batty's Practical Taxidermy and Home Decoration (1885) describes "ladies endeavouring to master the art (in which) feminine taste and skill can be brought effectively into play"
see I'm not sick at all........I'm just a lady.......
Views however have changed and the bad ethics now associated with taxidermy are discussed in Bringing Back the Dodo: Lessons in Natural and Unnatural History (2007) where Wayne Grady wonders at the grossness of wild nature defanged and turned into a museum.
I suppose what interests me in the that it takes the remains and attempts to give them the appearance of a mummy.... the decomposition is halted at least for a while and what remains is the appearance of life in death........ a kind of ambivalence. In a sense I am subverting this and making my dead creatures look as though they are dead.......but an ever present death.......

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