Psychopomps exhibition by Polly Morgan, London
From a giant orb made from disembodied crows’ wings to a suspended human ribcage with a flaming red bird resembling its heart, Polly Morgan’s macabre sculptures take on a strange, fantastical beauty in the dim light of the Haunch of Venison’s Mezzanine Gallery.
The taxidermist’s latest body of work - on show until 25th September - marks a change in aesthetic and scale from the pieces that first caught the eyes of Banksy and Damien Hirst several years ago, and set her career in motion. The curious charm of the rats in champagne glasses and rabbits curled up on top hats, has been swapped with works that are bolder, more emphatically sculptural, larger and, this time, airborne. Central to the show is a burnt out cage, suspended in the air by a flock of finches.
’Psychopomps’ is a Greek word that refers to a conductor of souls to the other world, like Hermes or Charon. It’s perhaps a bizarre title for an artist who, in the monograph that accompanies the show, says of the creatures she uses: ’The actual body is discarded. I have nothing to do with its spirit. The animals in my freezer are my raw materials, like paint to a painter.’ But, she does give these animals - all of which have died from natural or unpreventable causes - life after death, albeit in an extraordinary new guise.
’I wanted to make an organic whole that looked uncannily real,’ Morgan says of the mass of pigeon wings that make up ’Blue Fever’. ’I looked at Eadweard Muybridge’s time-lapse images of birds in flight and decided to make the different strata of wings in my sculpture mimic these stages, so that the objects seemed to have a pulse.’