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Tapestry Taxidermy

How many of you think taxidermy is beautiful? How many of you think it is vulgar? There is often a fairly substantial divide. I happen to like taxidermy that is well done and I have had the privilege of visiting a taxidermist who did some work for my father: a bard owl, a pheasant and a large-mouth bass. The level of craftsmanship and knowledge it requires to create an inanimate representation of something that was once living is impressive, to say the least. When executed properly, the results can be striking. At its best, the art of taxidermy honours its deceased subjects with a kind of eternal dignity.

Far removed from the ‘trophy heads’ that line the walls of smoky dens and pool halls, specimens can often be used as educational tools or can, ostensibly, rescue a deceased creature from decay by turning it into an artform. (It should be noted that many of the best examples of taxidermy were not got by first hunting and killing the animal. The unmarred bodies of animals that have died of natural causes – often age or winter starvation – usually make the best examples of taxidermy.)

I was taken recently by the work of two artists who have elevated the craft of taxidermy even further. No lives were lost in the creation of their unusual and colorful specimens and their creations evoke a deep sense of wonder. Frédérique Morrel is the collective name for a husband and wife team in France who create beautiful, sculptural taxidermy using textiles and tapestries. Frédérique and her husband Aaron collaborate to create these wondrous beings, which are covered with a skin of beautiful, patchwork tapestry.

“We like materials that tell stories of simple, ideal happiness and that have been caressed by many hands,” say the artists on their website. They go on to further explain their philosophy: “They are like friends of the family who just happen to have shown up unexpectedly. Far from the hunting trophies to which they bear some resemblance, these are living creatures that have literally poked through the walls in order to deliver their personal stories to us.” Below are five examples of their work. Click here to see photos of their fantastical studio and more examples of their work.



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  • By: Joel LeGrand

    It is pretty, but no more honorable then any other taxidermy.
    That is not to say that any taxidermy is dishonorable.
    My fathers rule was kill only for food & protection.
    It is my understanding that most, if not all the game meat is eaten.
    I had family members who fished, would not eat the meat, but they always gave the fish to people who would use the meat.
    Thanks for the 5 series, really like the different things.
    I regret my Father & Father -in -law are not here to see the painted cows, they were cattle men.

  • By: Elizabeth Etheridge

    The artist is amazing to have the vision to have created these and must be constantly hunting for tapestry pieces.

  • By: Ken Newman

    I’m trying to get my head around this one….it’s different. My first reaction was,” If Dr. Seuss was a big game hunter these are what I’d see in his den.” They’re growing on me…give me an hour or two.

    • By: Andrew Ritchie

      Haha! Ken, the beauty is in the wonder and imagination behind these creations, if nowhere else.

      • By: Ken Newman

        Now that I’ve had some time to digest them a bit…I’m liking them! As an after thought….somebody call Keith Johnson….these guys are screaming “Anthropologie”.

  • By: Kate's Daughter

    Well, to be honest, not so sure I like these, but I recognize that many others will. They are certainly unique and do put a very different spin on taxidermy!

  • By: Liz

    Beautiful stuff! I sighed when I looked at their website and saw it was the French – that meant it wasn’t local. I’d love to see these in person.

    BTW, Andrew, it should be: Frédérique and *her husband* Aaron.

    • By: Andrew Ritchie

      Oh, thanks, Liz. Those French names are so perplexing. But, yes, Frédérique is clearly the feminine. I’ll ask Brent to fix it for me.

    • By: Liz

      Wow, those are really cool! I wish I could afford one.

  • By: Ilona Crisp

    These are only on forms, not the real “bodies” aren’t they? They are beautiful!

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