It’s been a while since I blogged….I’ve missed it. I’ve missed seeking out new things, people and places to tell you about. It’s not that I didn’t seek them out – of course I did, it’s what I do and my notebook is as always, full of scribbles, names, ideas and things I’m looking forward to exploring in the coming months. It was more, I just didn’t have the time or the energy to do anything……
Those who really know me, know I’ve worked my socks off for the past 6months – I’m a prolific workaholic and an addicted culture vulture……but this year has just been something else – life in the fast lane, times a million. I don’t even know how it’s September or how I got through that workload, but it is and I did and I’ve worked on some fantastic projects so far and many more to come…..
I’m desperately trying to stand still and look back and reflect – but my head is just buzzing with all the ideas I’ve put on the backburner, collaborative opportunities I’m just itching to explore and new beautiful projects, that are at this point all mine to run free with…..
So even though I’ve had my head down to the ground, I’ve been watching, taking things in and for some, as creepy as it sounds (and I’m pretty good at being creepy), I’ve been admiring from a far. And if during this period of living amongst tornados of colliding priorities and projects, you have made me sit up and take notice of what you’re doing…….well you’re obviously doing something right.
Have you ever had love at first sight moment? You get butterflies, you’re consumed, confused, overwhelmed and the world really does stop and skip a beat….. I had a moment like that when I stumbled upon Moth Studios in Ampersand Inventions earlier this year. Their studio wasn’t even open but I was peaking through the glass (told you I was good at creeping!) and it looked like the most interesting, weird, bizarre and absolutely captivating studio to work in. From the work space, it screamed that something really exciting and different was going on – a very different creative offering………
It was a bright space, full of animal and insect touches – think Tim Burton-esque meets very talented taxidermy. Of course, I’ve always been fascinated by taxidermy and entomology– the practice, the art of it and how it has gradually moved from quite a niche thing to infusing other types of art forms – especially stop-motion animation but I’ve not really had that much exposure to it. However, their studio managed, whilst being full of dead things, to feel absolutely full of life and energy…..
My Ampersand tour guide at the time was all round megababe Melanie Kyles, who told me, that Moth Studios offer workshops and taxidermy sessions…… This peaked my interest absolutely and the more I thought about, the more it made absolute sense that this studio enabling people to experience taxidermy and entomology should sit right at the heart of this creative community.
As you know, the Culture Vulture is allllll about new things, different things and even bizarre things and Moth Studios is providing an offering that is so different and an experience like no other – so this is right up my street. And it’s not just me who thinks so – through-out this busy period my social media has been full of people from the North East championing their work and attending their workshops – from tiny skull sessions, to butterfly pining, to taxidermy…. I’m certainly not the only one fascinated and intrigued by this artist studio and exactly what goes on inside its doors……..
But for this Culture Vulture – it’s the processes behind the finished items that really interests me and the symbolic nature of the pieces, their silhouettes and the slightly gothic nature of the materials being worked with…….and so my love at first sight with Moth Studios started – at first of course, from a distance and now, well I’m head over heels and I just had to find out more so I caught up with Founder, Sherene Scott who started this adventure in 2014…..
So hello Sherene! Tell me about Moth Studios? Who are you? What is it all about?
I’m Sherene Scott, director and owner of Moth Studios. We are a contemporary ethical taxidermy studio located inside Newcastle city centre.
What was the inspiration behind starting it all?
I am an artist and taxidermist; I’ve had formal training, from Newcastle University and around the UK. The inspiration for Moth began in 2010 whilst I was still a student; I began training in taxidermy and I had an amazing interest for death and preservation; as strange as that may seem. My passion came to light when I realised it was a dying art form, the skill involved and particularly that it is a male dominated field of work.
How did you end up residing in Ampersand Inventions? I’ve peaked through the doors of your studio when I visited and holy moly, it’s a beautiful space!
I joined the Ampersand ‘team’ before the space was even erected, as I had friends that were resident artists and directors of the spaces. So you could say I was there from birth and build!
“Birth and build” – I really like that! Here in Ampersand you’re surrounded by other creatives and artists and the building as a whole, all with different backgrounds and practices etc; how does that influence you?
It’s a warm yet very professional feeling working so closely with other artists, designers and small businesses. We all have each other’s backs and we’re never short of giving and receiving ideas, advice and networking whilst we are “living together”.
Do you think taxidermy is making a real come back – it seems quite fashionable at the moment and gathering interest?
I think in the last few years, there has been a complete revival and resurgence in taxidermy. It’s an amazing feeling to see people interacting, enjoying and educating themselves with the idea of AND physically getting involved with life, death and anatomy.
There also feels like there has been a big shift from people seeing it as a technical process but something not often openly talked about or featured in a “cabinet of curiosities” to now being much more mainstream, with greater interest in both the process but also in it as an art form? Do you feel that too?
There has indeed been a shift in the way people see taxidermy… I.e. no longer only in museum displays, curiosity cabinets and dusty old traditional taxidermy with complicated dioramas.
Now because we have so many taxidermy laws and there are no longer illegal ‘trophy rooms’ for silly status value; I would like to think we no longer see taxidermy as a bad practice, but seen as beautiful, artistic and ethical pieces of natural beauty, with the dioramas now being your own home, space or a unique 21st century touch.
Tell me about some of your upcoming workshops – they are really unique and interesting? And how can people book onto them?
Moth Studios hosts many workshops and classes alongside their own work and online shop. We have beginner’s taxidermy and entomology (insect pinning) classes throughout the whole year!
Autumn/winter season is very popular for Moth… We have classes ranging from bugs to mice to squirrel, skull decorating, birds and even our specialised workshops themed around Halloween and Christmas, where we will be having bauble and wreath gift making evenings!
All of our up and coming classes are posted on our Facebook events page and I can be contacted directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org to get booked onto a session.
Where do you source your materials from?
All of Moth Studios specimens and skulls come from responsibly sourced donations and finds from various different people, rangers, aviaries, farms and so on.
Do you take commissions?
Moth Studios does take commissions and projects; mainly specimens that have been found or that Moth already has. However, I do not commission pets…….
Do you have any new projects on the horizon and what’s next for Moth?
We have many exciting projects on the horizon and 2018 will see a whole new class list, new works and entire new collection in our shop. We will also be touring Moth Studios classes to exciting external locations in the North East and down south!
Well that sounds massively exciting, thank you Sherene and if like me, you want to check out one of their classes – well why not come along with me and be my date…..I really fancy something Halloweeny or a Christmas wreath….get in touch and let’s do it.
Keep in touch with Moth via; Instagram: moth_studios , Facebook: Moth-Studios , Email: email@example.com , Website: mothstudios.co.uk or No: 07958658009.
Until next time Culture Vultures…..