The Art of Death

A modern take on the historical art form of taxidermy.
Rachel Stone
Published on August 28, 2019


The Victorian art form of taxidermy is currently experiencing a female-led resurgence. From 14 September to 27 October, The Art of Death will see seven female artists transform the rooms of historic gothic mansion Highwic with their lifelike, but definitely dead, creations.

Presented by The Metropolitan Club, the new exhibition hopes that the experience of taxidermy, together with other death-related art forms and experiential activations, will encourage us all to live fully by exploring our own ideas of mortality.

Artist Antoinette Ratcliffe explains that taxidermy provides an opportunity not only to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, but also to reflect on our own ideas of mourning and death. "I love being able to create pieces that honour the life of the animal, while also giving people the opportunity to appreciate them up close and from a new perspective."

The exhibition will feature historical pieces from the Auckland Museum archives, including a jaguar, badger, wombat and bear, as well as items from Highwic's own collection. Rooms in the 19th century mansion will be taken over with installations by artists Antoinette Ratcliffe, Karley Feaver, Hayley Theyers, Sophie MacDonnell, Jane Thorne, Paola King-Borrero and Kate Rampling.

Visitors are also invited to take an introductory taxidermy class, try their hand at life drawing with Social Ritual, attend a Hendrick's Gin tea cup cocktail party or absinthe tasting, meet the artists at an afternoon salon or get the kids involved in a garden bug hunting art workshop.


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