Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Death Becomes Her

I love to find inspiration from outside the ballet world to use in the studio--I'm not the kind of ballerina child who can survive and be inspired by ballet alone, since outside interests help keep me (semi)sane. And more often than not, I find that I am drawn to weird, ugly-beautiful sorts of things. So when my friend Louise introduced me to the work of British artist/taxidermist Polly Morgan, I was immediately fascinated and completely infatuated.

Polly Morgan began her career as an artist after taking a course with a professional taxidermist named George Jamieson. Her first four pieces caught the attention of graffiti artist Banksy; they depicted a lovebird looking in a mirror; a squirrel holding a belljar with a fly perched inside atop a sugar cube; a magpie holding a jewel in its beak; and a couple of chicks standing on a miniature coffin. Banksy commissioned Morgan to produce work for Santa’s Ghetto (an annual exhibition he organised in London). From there, her career as a unique taxidermist-as-artist took off rapidly, and the rest is history. Morgan is a member of the guild of taxidermists, and for those concerned parties: the animals she uses are donated by vets or pet owners, and they have died naturally or accidentally (i.e., roadkill, for lack of a gentler term).

I know the subject matter and materials Polly Morgan uses in her artwork are slightly twisted and definitely macabre in nature. But there is something incredibly fragile, honest, and beautiful about her pieces. I feel mildly, inexplicably intrusive when I look at her pieces...like I am peeking in on something I shouldn't be seeing. I can't put my finger on what it is about her work that I love so much (and yes, for the record, I am a dog-owner; it's not the "dead animal" part that I like most). Perhaps it is the fact that to me, she gives her subjects a new, unexpected life through her work. Whatever it is, I do know this: Death becomes Polly Morgan.

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