Sunday, 2 February 2014
The mention of bad or rather bizarre taxidermy in the comments of my previous blog posting seems to have triggered a flood of memories, not just from me.
Zhoen kindly directed me to the right source.
Walter Potter was the man who had the skill and imagination to make tiny frilly knickers for tiny dead and stuffed kittens to wear under their wedding clothes as he created his complex, highly detailed scenes of Victorian life.
I remember seeing some of these ( to me) magical creations when I was about eight years old. The images stayed with me, and I yearned to possess a miniature school-room full of tiny rabbits, all with their even tinier slates and chalks.
I wonder now if I realised they were dead, preserved creatures, or if I saw them as wonderful little toys. After all, there were very few toys in Post-War Britain, so these detailed dioramas must have seemed as enchanting then as when they were created in Victorian times.
Looking at them again now I am filled with a different type of wonder. What a leap of imagination to go from stuffing your own pet canary to creating a drinking scene of stuffed rats, a complex kittens' wedding, and a guinea-pigs' cricket match. What an awful awful lot of little deaths it took to create each scene. And how each scene has been appreciated and remembered - in so many different ways.
Once seen, never forgotten, for whatever reasons.
No wonder Damien Hurst wanted to buy the entire collection when it was dispersed.
There's more about Walter Potter's taxidermy here, but note that the exhibition is over.