Friday, 1 January 2016

Tring Zoological Museum and Stuffed Crows

I have naturally been seeking a range of sources for my illustration. So far I have drawn crows from photographs I have sourced online and winter fields from photographs I have taken in the countryside. But I have been looking to work from taxidermy crows and have been looking online to purchase one. Yet, I wondered if this would be the same when the high resolution photographs, I have been working from, show something living (the life and energy obvious) and often in dramatic poses. So would working from a stuffed animal feel the same or inspire such works? One place I went to look into this in December was the Tring Natural History Museum. I thought it a better idea to actually see some stuffed crows before I bought one.

The Tring Natural History Museum has an extensive collection of stuffed animals. I sought out the crow family and knelt before the glass staring at their lifeless status. Never have I felt so disappointed with my subject matter as then as I stared at the awkwardly posed birds. Not only were their eyes totally wrong, which is what I kind of expected, but their features seemed unnatural, their positions wrong and the sorry quality of their overall presence was like a diminished light. These weren't the powerful creatures I expected more sorry uninspiring replicas.

I stood back and realised that these were not the crows from my drawings or the beautifully grim birds that Ted Hughes talked about in his poetry. I resolved that I would need to photograph or draw from live birds.

Tring Natural History Museum - The Walter Rothschild Building, Akeman St, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 6AP

PLEASE NOTE: The Tring Museum is a wonderful and inspiring place and as I witness some specimens are showing their age. I highly recommend a trip there despite this experience as they have thousands of great taxidermy animals and the place is a national gem.

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