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These Surreal Sculptures Might Disturb You, But They’re Also Oddly Fascinating

Celebrating the triumph of life by creating art out of dead animals seems pretty counterintuitive, but when London-based artist Polly Morgan does it, you can see just how much sense that decision makes.

Morgan started using taxidermy in her work in the early 2000s, and her sculptures display preserved animals arranged into surreal and slightly troubling scenes that explore the inevitability of death. At the same time, her work examines the new life that springs out of death, and the continuation of the life cycle in the intertwined relationships that exist among all living things.

Coming into Nothing

<em>Coming into Nothing</em>

Hanging in the Balance

<i>Hanging in the Balance</i>

Sometimes Something Happens

<i>Sometimes Something Happens</i>

Myocardial Infarction

<i>Myocardial Infarction</i>

Some of her pieces are strange, like the chicks emerging from a phone receiver. The tiny worlds created for other creatures under glass bell jars are quietly unsettling. Others are much more visceral and disconcerting, like the flocks of tiny birds emerging from a deer carcass, or the dead pig erupting with crimson fungus.

Though images like these might make us wince, Morgan”s intent is actually to showcase the triumph of life. Even though the creatures she uses are very much dead, their presence makes us imagine them as they were in life, thus keeping their memories alive. In other cases, like in the pig piece, the scenes Morgan sets show how the dead are recycled by nature to create new life.

Receiver

<i>Receiver</i>

Hide and Fight

<i>Hide and Fight</i>

To Every Seed His Own Body

<em>To Every Seed His Own Body</em>

Sometimes on a Sunday

<i>Sometimes on a Sunday</i>

Exitus

<i>Exitus</i>

Still Birth (Red)

<i>Still Birth (Red)</i>

Some Sad Story

<i>Some Sad Story</i>

Communion

<i>Communion</i>

Though she studied taxidermy with a professional, Morgan is not interested in becoming a traditional taxidermist. Instead of posing the animals in naturalistic settings, she introduces their manipulated forms into surreal scenes. She sometimes cuts them apart and uses pieces of the bodies for an even stranger effect.

Friends and fans send her animals from all over the world. These animals are found already deceased usually as roadkill and are then used by Morgan in her pieces. No animals are harmed in the making of this art.

Archipelago

<i>Archipelago</i>

The Fall

<i>The Fall</i>

Carrion Call

<i>Carrion Call</i>

Lovebird

<i>Lovebird</i>

Harbour

<i>Harbour</i>

Still Birth (Black)

<i>Still Birth (Black)</i>

Stacked Against Us

<i>Stacked Against Us</i>

(via DesignTaxi, Beautiful/Decay)

You can see more of Morgan”s work, which includes resin and metal sculptures, drawings, and a lot of snakes, on her website. You can also follow her creations on Instagram and Facebook.

Taxidermy has always been a bit on the weird side, and here are some of the best examples: