Aberdeenshire artists explore beauty in death

Two Aberdeenshire artists have attempted to find beauty in death as part of the Gray’s School of Art Degree Show.

L-R Christina Mair and Susan Brand Degree Show 2015Contemporary Art Practice (CAP) students Christina Mair (23) and Susan Brand (26) both exhibited work exploring perceptions of death as part of the show, taking their inspiration from animal skeletons found in the countryside.

Christina, who looked at applying taxidermy techniques to soft toys, explained: “I removed the stuffing from the toys, turned them inside out and stitched them back up. I was inspired by the work of a lecturer at Gray’s School of Art, David Blyth, who reversed pre-mounted taxidermy.

“Seeing taxidermy without the actual skin made the creature look more animated and I think that applying the same approach to the soft toys has given them more character.

“The moment I was convinced birds were the route to take was finding a tiny bird skeleton of a swallow. Its delicacy and fragility were aspects I wished to apply to my own practice.

“My work has a playful aspect throughout but with a serious attempt at an age old skill.”

Talking about her work, Susan said: “The world’s derelict areas, though abandoned, are home to an unusual still life. Death in nature, and the decaying of animals is in a constant state of flux.  Degeneration gives way for a grotesque kind of growth.

“Death can be a beautiful thing. These things shouldn’t be discarded – I think people need to see them because it’s something that comes to us all. We tend to shy away from death but we really should embrace it.

“My work tries to push those themes into the viewer’s face. I find the remains of animals particularly interesting and see them as objects that should not be ignored or discarded but looked upon as art in themselves.

“I use the carcasses not only as primary research material for drawing, but also as part of my work.”

Both artists, who will graduate in July, are hoping to hold a taxidermy workshop in the near future and continue developing their practice.

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Jenny RushCommunications Officer | Design and Technology