Monday, 9 December 2013

Anthropomorphic Taxidermy Class

I'm so excited!

Tomorrow, I will fulfil an ambition I've had for many years; tomorrow I will create my first ever taxidermy art piece.

I am delighted to be attending the Anthropomorphic Taxidermy course at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery led by taxidermist and artist Nicola Hebson. I can't wait to meet her. I love her work and cherish the opportunity to learn from her. You can see some of her beautiful pieces and read about her fantastic ethos on her website, and also on her Facebook page.

Tomorrow I will taxidermy a mouse. And it will probably be arranged and dressed as the angel Gabriel, if I can find the appropriate props and make a suitable costume; halo, gown, trumpet and feathered wings.

This course comes at a critical point for me. It taps directly into my thinking and writing around the subject of anthropomorphism, which is the theme running through the stories in my current work in progress; my first solo short story collection.

From an early age, I've been fascinated by automata, taxidermy and animal personification. I have a massive soft spot for Walter Potter's dioramas. The line between living and dead intrigues me; how we project life, animation and personality onto things that lack them, or give voice and action to inanimate things. I see this echoed in lots of ways; think children projecting life onto their toys and adults buying phones with personalities that talk back to them. We stuff stuff to make it look more real than real. We put emoticon expressions into the body of our texts. Flea circuses, robots and self aware food labels... Why do we do all these things? Are the reasons varied and abstract or does it come down to something quite narrow and fundamental to our human experience? These are the questions I want to explore in the short stories I write for the collection. And doing the taxidermy course with Nicola Hebson tomorrow feels like a fantastic way into some of the narratives. Hands on experience - research in its truest sense.

To find out more about Taxidermy Tuesdays at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, and for future courses and further details see Nicola Hebson's Facebook page. And do pop back here to see what I manage to create on the course tomorrow!

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