Avanti Creates a Species

During the making of our indoor show 6-Impossible Things Lou Glandfield mentioned a certain Charles Waterton-(1789-1830), a man known for many things amongst which are, ‘inventing’ modern day anaesthesia techniques, having knocked out and then revived his donkey, (Curare and a pair of bellows since you ask), created the worlds first wildfowl and nature reserve, invented the nesting box, Oh, and liked to pretend to be his own butler when welcoming guests. He is also the creator of one of the most famous taxidermy hoaxs, the so called nondescript, with the upper half of a howler monkey contorted to look like an Amazonian Abominable Snowman. There’re many non verifiable tales about Waterton but one I would love to believe was that the nondescript was an irreverent portrait of a customs official he was in dispute with, just look at how the mouth is acheived. The specimen is still on display at the Wakefield Museum, along with other items from Waterton’s collection.

One of the great people we have worked with on our 6 Impossible things project has been James Dickinson. James is an internationally renowned taxidermist, more known for his work with museum collections than outdoor arts, but was persuaded to take a leap of faith and make something for us, our idea was an impossible animal our own nondescript. After much discussion we settled on an Arctic Platypus, the platypus having ‘form’ already as it was dismissed as a fake when first discovered in Australia. It is also a wonderfull contradiction, a mammal that lays eggs, has a venomous spur, (which makes it part reptile), suckles its young and has a ducks beak for goodness sake. Our platypus we decided would be feathered, adding one more genus to the mix, and would come from the northern hemisphere. Here are some picture of its construction and the final finished work. We also commissioned a poem from Lou in the style of Coleridge and Bryan Tweddle constructed a spectacular casket for the creatures last egg. Both these can be seen in a separate post. Look out for this work in 2015 the title is Reliquary.

More about Charles Waterston here.