Polly Morgan is an artist who specializes in taxidermy to create works of disturbing beauty. Morgan describes her craft as “as part butchery, part sculpture.” While her work may not be to everyone’s taste, it should be noted that all of the animals used by Morgan either died from natural causes or had unpreventable deaths. She has a long list of suppliers, from zoos, vets, farmers, and even family members, who supply her with a range of dead animals.
It wasn’t a straight path to her chosen career. Morgan tried her hand at a variety of jobs before deciding on following-up on a long-held interest in taxidermy. She was raised in the English countryside in a household filled with a menagerie of animals. As a child, she had wanted to keep the bodies of her pets that had died. Morgan now sees her work as “an opportunity to freeze that moment.”
It was while working in a bar that Morgan started her studies in taxidermy. She had asked a friend where she could find a piece of taxidermy for her apartment. Her friend suggested rather than buying one she make one herself. After scouring the Yellow Pages, she eventually contacted George Jamieson, a taxidermist based in Cramond, Edinburgh. For around $200, Jamieson instructed Morgan on the basics of taxidermy. Jamieson gave her a pigeon to work on, which she completed within a day. This was in 2004. Since then, Morgan has exhibited her taxidermied sculptures to considerable acclaim across the world and has been fêted by the likes of Banksy and Damien Hirst.
You might think all this working death and dead animals would make Morgan a tad morbid and even overly downhearted. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Morgan thinks it silly to have an emotional attachment to something that is dead. It’s just decaying flesh. Instead, she believes what she is doing is very positive by making something beautiful out of death.
See more of Polly Morgan’s work here.
‘Just as Sudden.’
Detail from ‘Rest a Little on the Lap of Life.’
‘Rest a Little on the Lap of Life.’
Detail from ‘Receiver.’
Detail from ‘Systematic Inflammation.’
Detail from ‘Harbour.’
A closer look at ‘Harbour.’
Detail from ‘To Every Seed His Own Body.’
‘To Every Seed His Own Body.’
H/T Amelia Illustration and Scene 360.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Creepy taxidermy: Potter’s Museum of Curiosities
The Awful Art of Failed Taxidermy
‘Frankenpussy’: The terrifying ‘Rogue Taxidermy’ of Sarina Brewer
Peace at Last: Beautiful and moving photographs of dead animals