Over the past few years Taxidermy has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance, no longer strictly associated with its morbid Victorian origins it has become increasingly popular with fashion designers and artists alike. Leading the way in the British taxidermy revival are artists Polly Morgan and Kate McGwire whose work is now highly collectible – Morgan’s pieces selling for up to £100,000. That her work has been exhibited in London’s leading contemporary galleries such as White Cube is indicative of the dramatic shift in taxidermy’s status – it has evolved from rural craft to cutting edge art form. It’s rising appeal is further underlined by the huge prices fetched at Christie’s South Kensington’s sale of the stock from Will Fisher’s Jamb last year, not to mention the number of taxidermy courses that launched across London – nearly all of which are oversubscribed.
For many, taxidermy will remain a seemingly macabre interest, but all practising and aspiring taxidermists will claim that there is nothing morbid about a fascination in the natural world. Indeed its link with biology cannot be denied. With opinion still polarised, exactly where this resurgence of interest came from remains unclear. For all those who have yet to make their mind up, The Other Art Fair – London’s leading artist-lead fair – is where they should head during this year’s Frieze week (17th – 20th October).
The Other Art Fair is offering visitors the chance to try their hand at the art of taxidermy. This rare opportunity means that visitors to the fair can leave with both an original work from one of 100 exhibiting artist, and also the skill set to create a masterpiece themselves. For the more faint hearted there will be a series of free taxidermy demonstrations taking place on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday night of the fair where visitors can watch specialists at work. And for those more keen, full classes will take place during the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. These will require booking in advance. The fair takes place at the Old Truman Brewery (E1) between Thursday 17th – Sunday 20th October.