Taking Tea … With Elle

Over the next few months I want to give you some insight into who the tutors and artists at Slamseys are as creatives, craftspeople and artists – and what better way than over a cup of tea!

Elle Kaye is our wonderful taxidermy tutor here at Slamseys Art.  She ran the first taxidermy mouse workshop back in June and since then we’ve had lots of people book their places on our other taxidermy workshops – coming up we have a Butterfly Preservation class on the 28 March, Wild Rabbits on the 11-12 April, Corvid Birds on the 25-26 April, Squirrels on the 20-21 June and the ever popular Rodent classes on Saturday 7 March and 6 June.

Elle Kaye, taxidermy tutor at Slamseys Art

Taxidermy Mouse class at Slamseys, Essex, Phot Credit Alexandra C Murphy
Photo Credit Alexandra C. Murphy

So here’s a little insight into the life of a professional taxidermist…

I asked Elle, What was it that got you into taxidermy in the first place?

I wanted to study veterinary science, but with no animal biology on our syllabus at school that was certainly suppressed. I had a subscription to animal hospital, spent weekends at petting farms, and would spend hours reading through books about animal science and anatomy at my local library instead of doing my actual work. I suppose it grew out of this interest in the educational side, and a fondness for conservation.

Talk us through an average work day…

Get up and have a coffee, straight to the workshop. I usually have several projects on the go because skins need to tan, pickle or dry, before you can move them on to the next stage which means each piece is staggered around one another.

What’s the most ambitious project you’ve worked on so far?

I’ve done a few phenomenal specimens; a black grizzly bear, several zebra heads, a lioness… I’m very lucky.

Is there a special project on your ‘to do’ list?

Big cats are my favourite animals, and although I have been fortunate to work on a lioness, a black panther would be pretty special. I also have an unheaIthy obsession with giraffes, and adopted one from London Zoo when I was seven. I used to collect giraffe stickers, postcards and pin badges (this seemed normal when I was young). A giraffe would certainly feel like an achievement.

What’s your favourite tool that you use in your work?

Patience.

And finally, how do you take your tea?

Very strong! A drop of milk is an overstatement.

Well now I know how to get the cuppa right at the next workshop!  Elle will be joining us at Slamseys very regularly over the next few months to pass on her skills to budding taxidermists in our workshops, and I’m especially excited for a project we have planned in June.  Our Art Month will be taking place between 4th – 27th June and will feature some of Elle’s taxidermy specimens in our ‘AFTERLIFE‘ exhibition.

Taxidermy mouse class at Slamseys, Essex,

Taxidermy Mouse class at Slamseys, Essex, Phot Credit Alexandra C Murphy
Photo Credit Alexandra C. Murphy
Taxidermy Mouse at Slamseys, Essex, Photo Credit Alexandra C. Murphy
Photo Credit Alexandra C. Murphy

For more information and to book your place on one of our workshops, visit our website.  You can subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the latest details about Elle’s exhibition, or follow what she gets up to Instagram.

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