Polly Morgan – “my mind works more like a digestive system…”
In this interview, we get under the skin of the highly controversial taxidermy artist, Polly Morgan
A few weeks ago The Creative Chair featured Taxidermy aficionado and author Alexis Turner. After purchasing his book, I became intrigued by the work of Polly Morgan, a controversial artist who uses the cadavers of animals as the basis for her work.
After I had visited one of her exhibitions in Walsall, Polly Morgan was kind enough to agree to this interview to shed a little light on her life and work.
Readers of a mild temperament may wish to skip this article as the images will not be to everyone’s taste.
Who / what are your greatest inspirations?
I love Sarah Lucas for art, Phoebe Philo for fashion, Werner Herzog for film and Fergus Henderson for food.
Your transition into notoriety was a relatively rapid one after your work garnered the interest of the enigmatic street artist Bansky. Could you tell us a little more about that incident and the result it had on your career?
It has been blown out of proportion really. He appeared at the very first showing of my work in a bar called Bistrotheque in 2005 and expressed an interest. He then asked me to show some work in a few shows he put together. There were others interested in my work at that time; Mollie Dent Brocklehurst put on my first solo show.
Is there one piece of work that you are more proud of than others?
There is one I have completed recently I am pleased with. Lightning Never Strikes Twice was very difficult to make (all components, other than the bird, I cast in Jesmonite and hand painted. It has an armature running through it, so it can self-support). The work is about artists-block; the inability to create when you most want to.
All of the animals you use died of natural causes so is there still a species your waiting on to aid in a potential new piece?
I try to work with what I have, but I do come up with ideas sometimes that feature animals I don’t have. I would like a pair of Ostrich legs for my next work if anyone has some!
You make art from dead animals but do you see future pieces while observing the living? For example, if one day you were dining on a cheese and onion pasty in the park and you noticed a group of pigeons fighting over a condom, do you start to envision your next installation or do those ideas come solely from animals who have passed away?
The ideas don’t really come from the animals; my mind works more like a digestive system. I may see a baby suckling its mother and go on to make a number of piglets suckling the sap from a dead tree.
And finally, if you died and were reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?
Animals by Talking Heads.