Polly Morgan is an artist that creates animal sculptures that creates an unique impact in people’s reaction to dead and life. Polly Morgan has a morbid fascination for dead things, but Morgans’ art is interesting all the more because we obsess over the body while it lives, but care little after it stops being host.
Our lack of interest in the life of things obsolete is implicit in her art message. One might assume that anything now non-living, could once have stopped living. A corpse is special for being the shed husk of something that had recently lived. By preserving the moment before the onset of decay, Morgan makes corpses eloquent.
She is not sentimental about the creature’s life, though she admits she would never stuff a pet. Yet the thread of mortality still exists – her art being more than just stuffed, pretty dead things.
“To start with it was a bit like that – and I was just fascinated about the taxidermy process and hanging onto dead animals.” But knowing a creature intimately was a learning process.
And if you think this is like mummification you are wrong.
In mummification you’re preserving what’s already there, whereas in taxidermy you are taking out a vast majority of the animal. It’s like peeling a latex suit off a human. You are keeping the skin, feathers or fur, and a few bones. Bones don’t decay. With birds, I keep the skull and strip them of flesh.
When you’re bending the wires in place it helps as guide. I use woodwool, used to pack crockery, bind it with string and penetrate it with wires then stick it into the body’s central core. That anchors them there. Then you stitch up the skin in the front. You fill up all the cavities and skull with clay.