Friday, 11 February 2011

Manchester Museum and other stuff

Yesterday I decided to take a trip into Manchester for a bit of drawing fun, and to get out of the house. I've been working pretty hard for the last week or so, so it was a day off, if you could call drawing for nearly five hours in a museum a 'day off'. I visited the Manchester Museum to draw the stuffed animals and skeletons - one of my favourite subjects.

What fascinates me about them is not so much the animals themselves, but the way in which they are displayed, and the ideas of preservation, education and human curiosity that they represent. A lot of these animals were killed and collected for personal or scientific interest a very long time ago. To shoot some of these species just for your collection is now absolutely unthinkable, when so many are coming close to extinction. Similar ideas interest me about zoos - I have drawn many times in zoos but, whilst their ostensible purpose is to conserve and protect species, sometimes they make me acutely uncomfortable. These thoughts pervade some of my more formal work and I'm hoping that in the coming few months before Helfa Gelf that I will create a body of work that relates to it.

On more frivolous days, I imagine them having conversations with each other:
"So, how was last night?"
"Pretty wild, actually."

For lunch, I met up with the husband to check out the veggie cafe at the Eighth Day health food shop. We shared dhal and a Sri Lankan cashew nut curry, both with brown rice. Absolutely wonderful. They also have a delicious looking take-away at the main shop counter with all sorts of wraps and pies that made my mouth water even after we'd stuffed ourselves full of lunch. If you ever happen to be hanging around the universities in Manchester, this is the place to go (as long as you like high-fibre food!). They even have their own recipe section full of yummy looking dishes.

Have a good weekend!


  1. I know exactly what you mean about feeling uncomfortable yet fascinated with taxidermy. I've found myself recently haunting taxidermy online because I often need models of things for my experiments.

    On the one hand I find them macabre on the other hand I like the way the victorians were fascinated with nature and almost saw taxidermy as an art form.

    Wollaton hall in Nottingham has quite a good collection of old taxidermy, but the most amazing and beautiful things (that I wish I could collect) were hand-blown glass jelly fish models. Science and art combined. I was raving about them for hours.

    I think they were like these

  2. Those jellyfish sound amazing. And the ones on the link were cool. I shall have to see them one day!

    There's an artist called Polly Morgan who is about our age and is a taxidermist/artist. Google her and see her work. Some of it is pretty weird but kind of amazing. She uses roadkill or dead pets donated to her for her work.