What is your practice?
I collect & create taxidermy, wet animal specimens & bones.
How did you first start & why?
I started taxidermy after seeing a live demonstration at the museum. I then watched videos online & read some books to learn how. A lot of it is trial, error & practice. I started because I have always loved animals and am a bit of a ghoul, so thought it would be a cool skill to learn.
What keeps you going?
When I acquire a new dead animal I get really excited about its potential for preservation or art projects. My friends & family are also really supportive & encouraging, so that helps a lot.
What are your creative outlets?
Creating taxidermy, making jewelry, processing skulls & bones & generally turning my house into a museum.
What Props did you bring to the shoot? Why?
I brought my zebra head. It’s the largest & most visually striking piece that I own.
I also brought a badger mount that’s an antique & I think it’s really beautiful. The jackalope was one of the first pieces I bought. I have a weird relationship with it. I also brought a variety of skulls. It’s cool to see the crazy variations in nature.
What is the hardest thing about your practice?
It’s hard not having the technical skills that you know you need & it can be really frustrating. It’s disheartening when a piece doesn’t turn out the way that you imagined that it would; when that happens I feel as if I have just desecrated a corpse.
Sometimes people’s perceptions can be really fucked up too and it’s insulting when they take me for an insane torturer, when what I do takes a lot of skill, hard work and a strong stomach.
What has been the most significant moment for you creatively so far?
My first successful mount is probably one of my proudest achievements. It’s a ringtail possum that was hit by a car. It was one of my first attempts at taxidermy & although the process was long, frustrating & gross, the end result is really beautiful & looks quite professional.
What motivates you?
I find it really hard to get motivated. Trips to museums, auctions & zoos help. It’s also fun to learn & master a new technique or skill.
If money were no object, what would you do?
I would probably travel to collect and make new pieces. It’d be cool to have a specimen from every country. I’d have to buy a couple of houses to put it all in too!
What are you currently working on / what’s coming up for you?
I’m currently at TAFE doing a mortuary certificate and working full time, so I haven’t been creating much lately. Once I’ve finished this course I will try to get a job in the funeral industry, and see where that takes me.
What does Create or Die mean to you?
I don’t think that the two have to be mutually exclusive. For me it’s less create OR die as much as it is die THEN create. I think that because death is universally experienced, inevitable and somewhat unknown, it will always be an interesting subject for creation and ideas.
~ 100 PICTURES | 100 STORIES – Conversation with Deb Morgan / Shot by Chrissie Hall ~