Harriet Horton taxidermy by Joe Quigg

Second Skin

28.10.2015 | Art | BY:

I feel as if I’m in a sylvan dream world, with animals slumbering peacefully around me – except I’m actually in dark cubbyhole in a printers’ office in Aldgate East. This is Harriet Horton’s studio and what I’m looking at are her works: she’s a taxidermist, and an unusual one at that. Her ethically-sourced pieces – brightly coloured and lent a surreal quality with the addition of neon lighting – are far from traditional.

“I can’t remember what made me want to do the neon, but I’ve always loved it, so for me merging it with taxidermy seemed quite obvious,” she explains. “I like it because it’s quite trashy. My godmother lives in Blackpool, and my family used to visit to see the illuminations, and it was kind of trippy.”

Horton’s path to her trade wasn’t straightforward. After studying philosophy at the University of Manchester, she went to train with George Jamieson in Edinburgh. She did taxidermy work in her spare time, on and off, for six years, and in the last year decided that she wanted people to see her pieces.

And that’s what I’m here to discuss, because Horton’s first solo exhibition, Sleep Subjects, opens on 13th November, and she’s just joined a gallery, Contemporary Collective.

“I became really obsessed with animals and their dreaming abilities and I thought it would really fun. I wanted to use lighting and other mediums to explore the visual representation of their potential REM. I wanted to make something that was about the animals rather than about the human version of dreaming.”

Harriet Horton taxidermy by Joe Quigg

Photography by Joe Quigg

She prides herself on maintaining a playful narrative: “Once you’ve taken an animal out of it’s natural habitat, where it looks beautiful, and you put it in a gallery, it looks at bit out of place. I tamper with what I can but I try to do it with utmost respect because I think you have a level of care as a taxidermist. I hate all that macabre gothic taxidermy.”

Harriet’s work is quite unlike anyone else’s, which she says, is because, “One of the most embarrassing things for me would be to accidentally do something that’s quite similar to someone else’s. I followed a lot of artists and then realised that if I wanted to do it myself, I didn’t want any conscious influences, so I stopped researching people. I’ve been starting to look again recently.”

The exhibition looks set to be equally unusual, a multisensory experience with music and lighting in a crypt. The music producer is Rob Shields, a friend of Horton’s. “It’s really special that he’s doing it. It’s going to be a new thing for me, because I can only visualise what I’ve got here, so…his element will kind of change things. I think I’ll change the layout and that’s what I’m quite excited about,” she says.

Horton’s young, fresh approach is turning taxidermy on its head – and we think it’s dead cool.

Harriet Horton will be exhibiting on 13 November at The Crypt Gallery. For more info, go to harriethorton.com

Photography by Joe Quigg; joequigg.com

Tags: , , ,

Join the mailing list

Search

  • Identifying a comfortable and trendy dog cloth is turning out to be difficult, as more and more cute dog clothes are venturing in the global market on regular basis.