Polly Morgan, taxidermist to the rich and famous, counts Kate Moss and Sharleen Spiteri among her clients. She lives in a warehouse in east London.
t can feel like a wasteland where I live, as it is very isolated, yet ironically you can be in central London in just under half an hour. It's strangely wild and beautiful, you look out the window and see swans flying past - there are no Starbucks, no Tesco Metros, no Café Neros, but there is wildlife in abundance and the nearest supermarket is a good mile away.
I live on an industrial site close to Stratford that sadly will soon be demolished to make way for huge swimming pools, diving boards and running tracks as part of London's 2012 Olympics.
I grew up on a farm in the Cotswolds, and my current home couldn't be further from the green countryside that surrounded me as a child. My father bred llamas and ostriches and I used to help him look after them.
In London, planners take one look at an unkempt area and they want to tame and manicure it and bring it in line with everything else. In the countryside, it can be enjoyed for what it is.
When I first moved to London, I lived in Shoreditch, where I managed the Electricity Showrooms in Hoxton. I met a lot of artists there and got very absorbed in the whole East End arts scene. That's when I developed an interest in taxidermy. I studied in Edinburgh with a well-seasoned taxidermist called George Jamieson from Cramond.
When I met my boyfriend, we decided we wanted to find somewhere to live that had enough space for us both to live and work. When we moved in it had nothing, and the landlord gave it to us at a very friendly rate to compensate for its lack of basic amenities.
One of the first things we did was paint the chipboard floor black and all the walls white. Then we started moving in our own artworks. We also built a soundproof wall beside our bedroom - when when we first moved we had a lodger who lived where my studio is now.
My boyfriend has paintings of roses on the wall, which give the place a softer edge among all the industrial hardness. He now works with electricity so there are a few odd-looking machines around.
Sarah Lucas gave him a one-armed bandit machine a few years ago, which he was going to make an installation from - it looks great, but it's still in progress. Another of his pieces is a wooden chair covered in small light bulbs, which is next to the kitchen. If someone sat on it without thinking, they could get a nasty shock.
I have a wonderful Gaggia coffee machine, which I literally wouldn't be able to live without, it is the nearest thing to our bed.
Kate Moss recently bought one of my pieces, a blue tit lying asleep on a prayer book beneath a glass chandelier. Sharleen Spiteri of Texas also bought a piece recently of a robin. It is very reassuring that such well-known people are interested in my work, but I confess I find it quite confusing as I have only been making art for a year.
I like working from home, my studio is right next door to our living room. Sometimes I sit in front of the TV working on something like a pigeon, but if my boyfriend catches me, he goes a bit crazy and tells me to move it through to the studio.
I have two huge freezers stuffed with dead animals in my studio, everything from mice and small birds to rats and foxes. Also I have taken up most of the deep freeze in the kitchen with my animals. I think what I like to do with my work is make something beautiful out of something that people would not ordinarily expect to be beautiful. I have a stuffed white owl above our dining room table, and two dancing rabbits on a splint next to the kitchen.
We have two chandeliers from Milan that look rather out of place in the eclectic arts space that is our living room. My boyfriend used to do the music for Fendi fashion shows and he picked them up when he was over there working. Most of our furniture is bought on eBay. We have a Missoni-style velvet sofa and an Indian rug in front of it, also bought on the internet. I made the dining room table from some pieces of wood that I found knocking around the yard outside. It was a present for my boyfriend's 43rd birthday.
Another reason I like living here is that it makes me do a lot more cooking. When I lived in Shoreditch, I would spend so much money in cafés and restaurants. Here, we go to the supermarket about once a week, stock up on things, and I tend to cook about twice a day.
There is a friendly and creative atmosphere around here, with lots of artists, fashion designers and photographers making the most of the cheap rent. Abigail Lane and Rebecca Warren are both close neighbours.
One of the few drawbacks of this flat is the dust that comes in through the window from industrial sites. I have to wipe down the kitchen three times a day.
We have a lot of books, mostly on art, nature and science. I have stopped buying books now as I tend to get given a lot and it is hard to find space to store them.
Because it is a factory building, it doesn't work that well for heating or ventilation. There is a huge ceiling window in the living room, which at this time of year allows in too much heat. In the winter it can be freezing, but we have a wood-burning stove, which is a godsend and we can fill it with wood we find close by.
I'm sad about the Olympics - not just because I will have to move on, but because the wildlife will too, and all the empty spaces will be filled. It will be the end of an era for many of the artists around here.
Stench is at LAZ.inc, Greek Street, Soho from 27 July to 15 September, pollymorgan.comReuse content