Sunday, August 9, 2009


I need to consider the ethical implications....if there are any...... of my decision to use animal remains......(basically bones, feathers and skins) ....... to produce art.

I suppose initially what matters is how these remains were sourced........ the large bones were purchased at £1.00 per bag from Edge and Sons organic butchers New Ferry (the calf's head cost a fiver and was unexpected and offered by the butcher himself ......they want photos.......I wonder what they're expecting!!!)

If the bones had not come to me and were left at the end of the day they would have been collected by "the bone man." Because of the risk of infection from animal and fish by-products they have to be rendered or incinerated.

The chicken bones that make up the chandelier have been collected from family meals during the year. My dad bought the chickens. It is his ritualistic offering every Saturday, along with some ginger beer and chocolate biscuits.
The routine of work now replaced at 83 with new routines that give the week meaning. Shopping with Donna to buy the chicken on Friday, offered to Dawn on Saturday and eaten for tea on Monday ( a bonus if either or both of the grandaughters are there to share the meal, and enliven the evening with their young wine-fuelled conversation.)

The skins.......some were bought...... some were found.
Professional Taxidermists have to follow strict codes. Certain birds and animals have to have special licences and all should be traced to a time and place. Those small exotic birds that I have bought from ebay are Victorian and pre-date legislation.

Those that are found comprise a series of small deaths that have come my way.......beginning with a dead squirrel in the park, a blackbird outside school, a bluetit brought by our one-eyed cat who rarely hunts these days (but did steal one of my stuffed mice!), a mole brought by my brother (he suspects either the cats or dogs......but it looked undamaged )....... A friend phoned up to ask if I was interested in a dead thrush and if not could I remove it anyway! And finally my husband arrived with a magpie in a plastic bag spotted while out driving. My specimens would have been rejected by any half serious professional because of the damage done to them......but my focus is remains and this is what remained!

The mice were bought frozen from . This firm specialises in food for is only insects that are sold live....... the mice were certainly deceased and not an I've titled them only sleeping.

There appears to be nothing illegal in what I am doing..... but no doubt to some people it is distasteful...... certainly friends and relatives find it all pretty odd...... and even my girls who are relatively broad minded (and neither vegan nor vegetarian) wonder when I will move on from the dead stuff.

There seems little doubt that had I been using human remains, issues of respect, and proper treatment would have been raised. (Although Haitian artist Jean Herard Celeur seems to get away with it... constructing his sculptures from diverse waste materials including human skulls and car windscreen wipers salvaged from rubbish dumps and cemeteries respectively.)

I seem to have raised two separate issues here :- one concerning the differing status of human and animal remains and perhaps inherent in that, a differing status with regards to human and animal life.
And secondly in what way are the physical remains after death deserving of respect and proper be continued.........

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