Still Birth (Blue)
by Polly Morgan
Still Birth (Green)
by Polly Morgan
Still Birth (red)
by Polly Morgan
Biography for Polly Morgan
Polly Morgan is rapidly becoming a name to watch among a new generation of British artists.
Polly Morgan is an artist who incorporates highly skilled taxidermy in her work. Polly Morgan’s taxidermy started out as a hobby, but her creations, are far removed from the faux-live tableaux loved by the Victorians. Polly Morgan has talked of her desire to celebrate the corpse as a thing of beauty and significance.
Polly Morgan is a member of the Guild of Taxidermists, the unnerving tableaux she creates using animals and birds that have met accidental or unpreventable death, make disquieting observations about beauty and mortality, and have attracted plenty of attention.
Polly Morgan’s striking work has been snapped up by serious collectors and celebrities. Such works as; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Murdock’s Commission’, a blackbird and song thrush on medical dictionary and pill pot. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘The Last Enemy’, a robin lying on a book with miniature crystal chandelier and glass bell jar. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Bistrotheque Commission (part 4)’, a parrot looking into a mirror. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Morning’, a robin smashing through a sheet of glass. And; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Aubade’, two birds and lights.
The Skill and craftsman ship demonstrated in her work is evident in; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Rest a little in the lap of Life’, a white rat curled in a glass with miniature chandelier. And Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Rest a Little in the lap of Life (part 2)’, a white rat curled in a glass with miniature hanging chandelier. Quote from Polly Morgan ‘’Gruesome but really lovely, like a scoop of furry ice cream’.
Polly Morgan’s works often emphasize the dying fall of the animal’s body, often precisely by means of the visible splints and supports by which they are propped up. As In; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘For Sorrow’, a magpie perched and singing on top a Bakelite telephone. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Testament’, a Robin draped over a common prayer book, with a miniature hanging chandelier above encased in a bell jar’. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Understudy 1’ and Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Understudy 2’, pigeons looking into a two way mirror. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Former Things’, a wax work model sitting on a chair, slumped over a table with a white cloth, a jackdaw perched on the opposite chair and above a hanging chandelier with falling chicks.
Harry Handelsman, the founder of the Manhattan Loft Corporation, first saw Polly Morgan’s work exhibited at Dent-Brocklehurst’s ancestral pile, Sudeley Castle, and has since bought two pieces (a fox and a bird on a prayer book). ‘Polly Morgan has a lot of talent. She’s original, creative, full of personality,’ he says.
Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Still Life after Death’ (rabbit) (2006), a magician’s top hat floats above the figure of an unresponsive white rabbit. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Still Life after Death’ (fox) (2006), a fox is snugly curled in an outsize champagne glass. And; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Still Life after Death’ (Birds), birds lying and floating on and above crumbling cobwebbed window sills, were exhibited at Sudeley Castle in an installation show called ‘Reconstruction 1’.
In 2005 the artist Banksy spotted Polly Morgan’s first four pieces (bell jar installations for a friend’s bar opening in Bethnal Green: ‘A lovebird looking in a mirror, a squirrel holding a bell jar with a little fly perched inside on top of a sugar cube; a magpie with a jewel in its beak; and a couple of chicks standing on a miniature coffin’) and offered her a pitch at his temporary gallery, Santa’s Ghetto. These sculptures were followed by; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘La Petite’, a new born chick curled up inside a half opened matchbox. Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Mind over Matter’, a small bird cradled in a spoon. Polly Morgan, sculpture; ‘Why do we Wake? 1’ Polly Morgan, sculpture; ‘Why do we Wake? 2’ Polly Morgan, sculpture; ‘Why do we Wake? 3’, Birds on spoons. Polly Morgan, sculpture, ‘Living Room’, a chick, a Perspex box and a wooden plinth. And; Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘Two every Seed his Own’, a Blue tit lying on a book, Hanging chandelier and bell jar.
‘Polly Morgan, sculpture ‘MS. Found in a Bottle’, a messenger pigeon lying in a huddle in the bottom. Was exhibited at a group show called ‘You Dig the Tunnel, I’ll Hide the Soil’, a group show, alongside work by the Chapman brothers, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Julian Schnabel and Cindy Sherman.
Polly Morgan was taught the techniques of taxidermy by George Jamieson, an Edinburgh taxidermist, who took her through the process using a defrosted pigeon. Polly Morgan quote; ‘It awakened this love of nature that I’d ignored. I’ve always been a bit morbid, so it satisfied that side of me, and I was curious about the biology, the anatomy.’
Nowadays she gets her ‘deads’ from friendly vets; or her Cotswolds-based mother, who scavenges gamely for roadkill; or friends and contacts with aviaries (Polly Morgan usually works with birds as they are easier to source).
Polly Morgan quotes; I am interested in the moment between something dying and decaying – anything between a few hours and a week. There’s something beautiful about that. The wings aren’t used for flying, the eyes aren’t used for seeing, the beak isn’t used for pecking… it just becomes an ornament. When it’s taken out of context, people can see that it’s beautiful. They can appreciate it for what it is.’
Haunch of Venison in London is featuring Polly Morgan’s work in the exhibition “Mythologies”.