As autumn chills begin to gust across London and Halloween looms on the not-too-distant horizon, we thought it fitting to have a look at the – well – creepier side of London’s more unusual businesses.
This week we’re delving into our city’s top taxidermy spots. “Once dismissed as a Victorian throwback , taxidermy is now hot stuff”, an industry that is rapidly becoming more trendy and popular; you can even attend taxidermy classes these days (known affectionately as ‘DIY taxidermy’. Arty, unusual and on-trend, it’s a world we wanted to know a little more about.
The Independent summarised this peculiar renaissance as well as we could: “Over the past five years, British taxidermy has enjoyed a popularity revival that has seen the craft move from the stuffy world of macabre Victorian curios to the cutting edge of Brit art.”
1. Get Stuffed
Islington’s very own taxidermists, Get Stuffed, have experienced their fair share of notoriety and controversy in previous years, having spent a rather torrid period in the public limelight for all the wrong reasons, 12 years ago.
Alas, this little shop, bristling with a plethora of birds, mammals, skulls, antlers and fish of all varying species, always catches our eye on a wander down Essex Road. You’ll often see passers by staring dumbfounded through its glass windows, gawking at the shop’s contents – a rather unnerving experience on a cold dark night, it must be said!
2. Polly Morgan
Londoner Polly Morgan has capitalised on her fascination with taxidermy through forging a career as an artist, whose very medium is stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes, all creatures great and small.
Polly’s work has subsequently gained the attention of several leading public figures, including the likes of Kate Moss and Banksy – unsurprisingly, her works sell for big bucks too. And it’s quite clear to see why; her work is fascinating to say the least – for a start, who else do you know that keeps a range of dead animals in their freezer? (If you don’t believe us, check out this video).
Polly’s unusual artistic style has gained her various accolades, but it is the environment she places her works within that is most captivating – expect to see creatures inhabiting rather weird confines and placed in odd positions! If you think that’s weird, then have a look at this article titled ‘Seven Bizarre Fantasy Taxidermy Artists‘. Enough said.
The Horniman Museum is an absolute goldmine for stuffed animals. Their most famous work is probably the resident walrus, which even has its very own twitter account! Alongside this Arctic beast, you can find rather grisly Damien Hirst-style animals, dissected and preserved in big jars of formaldehyde and some of their feathered friends adorning the walls.
It’s fair to say The Horniman have an exotic collection, with an in-house orang-utan and a kiwi bird too.
Now these guys really take taxidermy to another level. Specialists in the business (to look around their showroom in Wandsworth you must book an appointment beforehand); if you want pickled creatures, insects or big game heads, these are your guys.
We can’t tell you much more but having glimpsed an armadillo and a parrot on their website, it’s quite apparent London Taxidermy don’t do things by halves!
Our last pick takes us to East London and into the restaurant of the reputed and quirky Les Trois Garcons, famed for its eclectic interior, which exhibits a wealthy array of stuffed beasts.
Diners can enjoy themselves whilst surrounded by a dalmatian, sabre-toothed tiger and giraffe to make for an extra special cuisine experience (and the food isn’t bad either!). Not one for vegetarians, perhaps, but a carnivore’s grisly delight.