My work delves into the curious, fascinatingly odd and morbidly beautiful. The idea of intriguing the viewer and pulling them in to my world with strange objects and morbid curios to manipulate the viewers emotions on the subject of mortality - life, death & resurrection. I wish to challenge the inevitability of our disappearance after death by preventing decay and rescuing ‘junk’. Giving a second life, an artistic resurrection, to deceased animals and second hand objects I hope that in return this second chance I give them will help me live on through these creations when I am gone.
My creations are about helping to overcome the fear of nothingness by accepting death as a thing of beauty and using preservation and upcycling to show myself that if I can stop decay and disappearance then I can have some sort of control over my own demise. My influences include Victorian memento mori’s and post-mortem photography to remember the dead, the Christian concept of Christ’s resurrection, and the mummification preservations of ancient Egypt. The idea of mortality means a lot to me and has always fascinated me due to my death during birth, and my fear of when it will take me next. There were complications during my birth which resulted in me being born deceased and after resuscitation left with Erbs Palsy, the partial paralysis and stunted growth of my right arm, so I have always had a fascination with the morbid and abnormal.
As I work on my animals I feel as though I'm taking control of death. Preserving these animals is a way of challenging the idea that the cycle of death is completely out of our control. I see death as being in three stages:
We die, we decay, we disappear.
I confront this by holding creatures at the 'death stage' and stopping them ever reaching decay. I use second hand objects in the same way, finding objects that have fulfilled their life’s purpose and have moved on to being ‘junk /trash’ and then giving them a second purpose, an artistic re-birth. This also links to being an artist, which is my way of living on and never disappearing after I die. During the process of my art I am resurrecting the deceased and disused in to their second cycle, as playful new relics that give a space an atmosphere not dissimilar to that of a sacrilegious altar.
Each piece also has its own secondary personal meaning. The process of dissecting, sculpting and repainting the subjects can be a challenge with my erbs palsy, but this is a very important struggle for me to get through. I use it as an outlet, a sort of catharsis to let out negative emotions and this comes out in the final creation.
Each piece is made from chance and fate. It is a butterfly effect that causes each deceased animal or found object to be in the same place and time as me to make it into my collection. Subjects may be in my collection for five minutes or five years, but when I feel items harmonise they are then transformed in to hybrid art objects. It is all little fragile pieces of a puzzle that could end up entirely differently if just one thing had changed. In this way the medium itself takes some sort of control and some kind of life.
NEW WORLD SERIES
Another large part of my practice are my deceased foetal studies. I visit many medical collections for inspiration and appreciate and study the beauty of human organ/tissue specimens, but it is the deceased foetal specimens that have always struck me the most. The idea that I could have been, and for a few minutes was, one of those lives that had never started and yet have ended. I hated that they never had their own life cycle, so I put them through a cycle and process as an art-form. I hated that they never had the chance to make an impact on the world, so as an art-form I let them do this. And I hated that they had never seen the world outside of that hospital building, so I capture their essence through sketches & paintings and take those to see the world outside of the hospital walls.
BEAUTIFUL CORPSE SERIES
After working with the 'New World' series for a while I wanted to show people other wonders from medical collections that I didn't think were appreciated the way that they should be. These museums hold thousands of human cadaver sections and specimens that are used for scientific research and study. They are looked at every day to learn from but in their dull and dirty containers surrounded by thousands of others they lose a huge part of their charm and people are so focused on what they are that they don't notice how amazingly beautiful they are. So I wanted to take away the scientific surroundings, the educational environment, the dust and the grime and the information text books to leave behind just these absolutely striking objects. I photographed a selection of the specimens that I fell in love with the most, focusing on the patterns and colours in the tissues instead of what each specimen really was. I showed them to people without telling them what they are or where they were from and it worked. People finally appreciated the beauty behind them. Those outside of the medical profession weren't pushed away due to their normal mind set of 'its part of a dead person so its disgusting' and those in the medical profession finally saw the beauty that had been staring them in the face the whole time. People were stunned to see that death could be such an enchanting thing and were curious to find out more about the images and kept asking to see more and more of these captivating objects. I even had people telling me that I had helped them overcome a death of a loved one by showing them the amazing aspects that can be left behind.
[NO ANIMALS / INSECTS ARE EVER HARMED FOR THE PURPOSE OF MY ARTWORK]