The Victorian art of taxidermy has been revived in recent years in the work of a number of contemporary artists. Taxidermy has been employed to explore a variety of pressing issues: the line between humans and other animals, questions about conservation and environmental issues, and more basically to provoke deeply enigmatic encounters with the natural world.
Neil Hamon's ‘The City Lights Shine Brightly in their Eyes' re-imagines a traditional museum diorama as a urban wasteland, in which birds, rabbits and squirrels are caught in a chilling death after an oil-slick or other man-made disaster. In contrast Artists Anonymous have created a witty coupling of an antlered hare and a chicken.
In Polly Morgan's work the animals are not restored to life, but resuscitated in their death. In ‘Rest a Little in the Lap of Life' a white rat is curled in a champagne glass under a mini-chandelier and in ‘Mind over Matter' a robin is cradled in a spoon. Kelly McCallum's series of taxidermied pigeons are presented as if in death, with maggots and beetles populating their corpses. But closer inspection reveals that the maggots are golden, the dung beetles are rolling a pearl and that glistening blood is actually precious stones - thus creating a simultaneous effect of attraction and repulsion.
The series of sculptures called ‘Katy's Convoy' by the Danish artist Nina Saunders incorporate upholstered domestic furniture and a taxidermied bird, fox and a deer's head to explore issues of forced migration and the difficulty of leaving home behind.