Alice Jones' Arts Diary: Silicon pigs? Stags stuffed with bats? It's taxidermy, but not as we know it...


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Polly Morgan, aka the artworld's most famous taxidermist, has set her sights on larger prey following a safari holiday in the Serengeti.

Her new show, which opens at All Visual Arts in London next month, will feature a row of piglets suckling on a rotten log and a stag whose insides have been hollowed out and stuffed with bats. The stag was shot on a hunt by her old taxidermy teacher George Jamieson in Scotland. "It was one that wasn't going to be stuffed as a trophy or eaten. It would have been hacked up and buried", says Morgan.

The piglets, meanwhile, are silicon casts of dead farmyard runts, made at Elstree Film Studios. "I don't find taxidermied pigs very convincing. You need a good covering of fur or feathers. The skin goes a bit papery. I wanted them to look really plump and fleshy." The show will also feature ash paintings of nests, made from the cremated remains of birds. "Some people don't like you messing with dead animals but respecting the dead body of an animal is silly and hysterical", says Morgan. "We have to do it with humans for the sake of the people left behind. I don't care what happens to my body when I'm dead, I'm far more worried about what happens to my sister's. It's not the same with animals – we're foisting human sentiments on to them."

Bold debut for a Seventies boy from the Bush band

Make a note of Syd Arthur, a new band whose roots are firmly planted in the floppy-hatted heyday of the Seventies. Little wonder, given that their violinist and mandolin player is related to one the brightest stars to emerge from that era. Raven Bush, nephew of Kate, has been playing with the psychedelic folk rock four-piece (previously known as Grumpy Jumper and then Moshka) from Canterbury since 2006. On 2 July the band will release their debut album, On An On, on their own record label, Dawn Chorus Recording Co. The band members produced the record themselves, in their own Wicker Studios. Bush, 25, the son of Kate's eldest brother, John, also releases music under the pseudonym Dorovio Bold, a retro name he took from the character played by his mother (but cut from the final version) in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Glasgow moshers wanted for London 2012 Festival show

Fancy taking a turn with Michael Clark? The enfant terrible of contemporary dance is creating a new work for the end of the London 2012 Festival in September and is looking for local performers to join in. In keeping with the Scottish dancer's rock pedigree – he has previously choreographed works to the music of David Bowie and Iggy Pop – the event will take place at Glasgow's Barrowlands rock venue. Though the official call hasn't been put out yet, Clark is looking for regulars at the Barras to join his show. Talented moshers can register an interest at

Propping up the bar at the National Theatre

Here's a nice idea. The National Theatre has found a use for all the furniture, fake trees and flats cluttering up its storage spaces – it's using them to furnish a new bar on the South Bank for the summer. The Propstore, which opens on 24 May on the river bank outside the theatre's bookshop, will be made entirely out of old stage sets – walls from The Comedy of Errors, lighting from Frankenstein's rig, chairs from The Cherry Orchard and a bar topped with old scripts. Expect plenty of am-dram re-enactments as the cocktails begin to flow.