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Kelly McCallum Has a Thing For Victorian Taxidermy


Art is far too important to be taken seriously

When you see a quote like this on an artist’s website, you know you are in for something, although perhaps just not what that something may be.

Welcome to the slightly macabre world of Kelly McCallum…

A Canadian by birth, Kelly McCallum is currently based in London. She is celebrated for combining her fine goldsmithing skills (focusing on scale and incredible attention to the most minute detailing) with a keen interest in Victorian taxidermy. Her pieces embody her interests in story-telling, natural history, taxidermy, insects, precious metals and other treasures from her carefully curated collection of oddities and natural wonders. And, as you will soon see, her work typically explores dark themes of death, decadence, decay and rebirth as well as challenging perceptions of preservation and disintegration.

According to Kelly, herself, “I am interested in the stories of how things age, how they decay or are preserved, are forgotten, covered in shrouds of grime, only to be found again and given new meanings by our own sentimentality. Taxidermy seeks to preserve life by celebrating death: it is a strange half-live, a suspension, an illusion. Insects on the other hand, through their lives, destroy this illusion: they feed on death, breaking down, demolishing, creating movement from a silent tableau, forcing change and action.”

Kelly McCallum’s work is a bit like a car accident for me… I know I shouldn’t look, but I really want to. What do you think?

Kelly McCallum's General Eenzo Bianchi taxidermy
‘General Eenzo Bianchi’ by Kelly McCallum
(Image © Kelly McCallum)
Kelly McCallum's 'Dutchess Anne Louise Chapman' taxidermy
‘Dutchess Anne Louise Chapman’ by Kelly McCallum
(Image © Kelly McCallum)
Kelly McCallum's 'Contessa isabella Mancini' taxidermy
‘Contessa isabella Mancini’ by Kelly McCallum
(Image © Kelly McCallum)
Kelly McCallum's 'Gyrfalcon' taxidermy
‘Gryfalcon’ by Kelly McCallum
(Image © Kelly McCallum)

Kelly has exhibited in many different countries, including Canada, the United States, France, Korea, The United Kingdom, and Poland, and her work has been displayed at The Victoria and Albert Museum and Liberty of London. I have to admit, I quite like the way her work refuses to fit easily into one category, and challenges assumptions and preconceptions.

And, just because I picked some of the less macabre, and more fantastical, images to show you above, check this one out…

Kelly McCallum's 'Do You Hear What I Hear' taxidermy
‘Do You Hear What I Hear’ by Kelly McCallum
(Image © Kelly McCallum)

Did you have to look twice?

For a more comprehensive selection of Kelly McCallum’s works, you can check out her personal gallery here.

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Comments (18)

I loved the animals with the saddle, but that last photo gave me chills. 🙂

Hi Mags – I suspect the artist intended to give you a bit of a shake. It is a tad confronting, isn’t it?

I think Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, would totally love these!

WIM2S – Have just downloaded Let’s Pretend That Never Happened and finally understand the connection. Duh! Minor brain fart. Apologies.

I have to agree with Mags…I don’t mind the saddles, although they are a little out there, but the last one is a bit wrong!!!…. I think it is because taxidermy is really supposed to celebrate the animal and they kind of make a little bit of a mockery so I think that is why they are a little hard to digest, but like you say they are a bit like a road accident you just cannot help looking!! I think I will stick with John Derian 🙂

Not for you, BCD? Not to worry – there’s LOTS of John Derian to go around! 🙂

I will have one!

I shall have to investigate for you and see what I can do…

Wow these are so cool and unique! Very creative

Hi Wandering – thanks so much for popping in!

Kelly’s work packs a punch, doesn’t it? Do have a squizz at her website if you would like to see more. There is an amazing polar bear piece. 🙂

The birds are divine … the blue and yellow…..hate the last one….maggots are my all time worst thing (i worked as a vet nurse a long long time ago) ….still makes feel sick … now got to go and have some breakfast….or not 🙂

I find holding my nose helps, D! 🙂

Eeeeeeek! They are certainly different. This reminds me of a line from a Seinfeld episode, so I’ll stick with saying that these pieces are “breathtaking”. And that glimpse was more than enough for me, TSL! 🙂

Never took you for squeamish, Sparks! (being an old HR hound, and all that). 🙂

Ooooh – and I just found this great quote over on Arhitektura Plus: “Art is not what you see but what you make others see” (Edgar Degas). What do you think that says about Kelly McCallum’s work?

Art is far too important to be taken seriously – yes. but I just don’t know about these poor little animals 🙁

Marina – no animal was harmed in the making of this art. I wouldn’t do that to you (or me!)

Oh I know that! I think I am more a fan of ceramics 😉

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