Recent work by Kelly McCallum



New York gallery R 20th Century has sent images of recent work by London taxidermy artist Kelly McCallum.


The pieces feature various species of Victorian stuffed birds embellished with gold maggots or watch parts, conveying decay and the passing of time.


Photos are by Sherry Griffin for R 20th Century Gallery


More Dezeen stories featuring work by Kelly McCallum:

Fuck You and the Horse You Rode in On
Dezeen's top ten: Animals
Natural History at Selfridges
Jewellery and objects by Kelly McCallum
Dezeen presents: Menagerie at The Jones


Below: Do you Hear What I Hear?, a Victorian taxidermy fox with 18ct gold plated maggots. Designed and made by Kelly McCallum, London, UK, 2007. This piece features in the new exhibition, Telling Tales at the V&A


Here's some text from the artist:


The grey film of dust covering things has become their best part.
- Walter Benjamin, Dream Kitsch, 1927


Kelly McCallum's artist statement begins with the quote above.


This is one of the jumping off points for her exploration of how things age -- how they decay or are preserved, are forgotten, are covered in shrouds of grime -- only to be found again and given new meanings.


McCallum resurrects antique taxidermy and preserved insects through the application of sculptural elements inspired and informed by her training in goldsmithing.


She incorporates antique watch parts, parasite insects cast in gold, precious jewels, eggs and other wondrous clues to an unspoken narrative.


Her work is beautifully conceived, exceptionally well crafted and beguilingly mysterious.


Above: Victorian taxidermied bird sculpture with gilt quail eggs, a nest of human hair and miniature jewel beetles, on a branch stand, 2008.


Above: Victorian taxidermied bird sculpture with antique clock parts and pocket watch, on a branch stand, 2008


Above: Victorian taxidermied bird sculpture with antique clock parts and pocket watch, on a branch stand, 2008


Posted on Wednesday July 15th 2009 at 4:01 pm by Zaynab D. Ziari. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • It is very interesting.
    At the same time, it is a bit disgusting……
    Looking like these animals are being eaten alive from the inside………

  • charles


  • keypadz

    yeah i don’t see this as beautiful in any way. its just sad to me. these are animals and now they are stuffed with things that just don’t fit. its a bit of a disrespect.

  • B.S.

    Not nearly as good as these people

  • I am very uncomfortable with this. It seems terribly disrespectful. I don’t see any beauty in it. Incidentally, I live in a part of the US that is very into hunting – although I am not a hunter. This affected me far more than Damien Hirst’s cows or sharks.

  • xtiaan

    all those people saying how “disrespectful” this is, how horrible, oh those poor animals etc, Id be willing to bet my left nut that they all eat meat and or dairy, and wear leather without a single thought for the poor animals that get killed every day to feed and clothe them, hypocrites…ugh

    Im a vegetairian and i really like these art works, though they dont seem nearly as subtle and well wrought as some of her earlier sculptures.

  • Designer


  • The gold maggottry is disturbing–but overall I find her work intriguing–it’s the fetishization of time.

    In response to those before me—is this more controversial than the actual Victorian practice of memento mori? Are dead pharoahs on display at the museum less disrespectful?

  • zerocharisma

    memorexe paleeeeese! don’t be so shallow. pharoahs were preserved never to be shown to anyone. It was a sign of respect to be placed to rest in immaculate order. We, years and years and years later found these pharoahs and upon our own decisions chose to show them. This taxidermy is very very different. These animal pieces were created with the intent of being displayed. Not only being displayed but being shown in a decaying nature. Its just sad. Credit to the artist for the skill of the practice. no denying this. It is just apparent, more than anything else, that the artist has created these pieces knowing how much attention they will find. An animal is a beautiful thing. Preserving one in a natural state can be graceful. Using an animals body to house foriegn objects and attract attention is just unfortunate. its just sad to see.

  • Leedah

    disgustingly beautiful