POLLY MORGAN

Artist

I am interested in the life that springs from death: maggots hatching on a corpse, things degrading and nourishing the earth, that kind of thing.

Where would be the dream place for you to exhibit your work?

Wholly improbable answer but the DIA Beacon in upstate New York.

It seems that there is a very academic element and a science to your artwork, what is the blend would you say of science to creativity?

The conception of the work is purely artistic. The initial stages of the process are more scientific: skinning the body, dissecting parts and tanning the skin. Building the armature over which to stretch the skin is both: you can’t be creative at this point unless you want to distort the features of the animal, so the execution is scientific – measurements are taken with calipers and the anatomy is studied. But it is essentially a sculpture you are building, albeit one with restrictions.

Of all the ideas or animals that come to you, how do you decide which is going to become your next big project or exhibition piece?

I try to live with an idea for a while, rather than to lurch straight into making it. I tend to digitally draw the work, changing scale or components to see which combination works best. Some ideas seem excellent to me only fleetingly, others stay with me and often evolve or branch off leading onto whole bodies of work. I tend to have an overarching concept for a show and the work has to fit in order to merit inclusion.

You are very ethical with the sourcing of your animals and clearly an animal lover… did you have lot of experience with animals growing up?

Yes, we had hundreds of animals. My father worked with them in various guises but was never involved in the killing of them (more the fertilisation side!) As a family we devoted a lot of time to looking after animals and so they have always been an integral part of my life.

For me, your work brings a real sense of beauty to death and decay and an overriding feeling of hope and light… I’d love to know if i’m on the right tracks?

I am interested in the life that springs from death: maggots hatching on a corpse, things degrading and nourishing the earth, that kind of thing.

What is in your fridge/freezer at the moment?

All sorts! I have a 3.5 metre Burmese Python, which is good for scaring guests. A cat, multiple garden and aviary birds, two swans and a baby boar, to name a few.

What are the books by your beside table?

Currently there are biographies on Rothko and Jackson Pollock, The Better Angels of our Nature by Stephen Pinker as well as the White Hotel by DM Thomas which I’ve just started reading.

What defines a confident woman to you?

Ploughing her own furrow.

Do you have a favourite website you can’t live with out?

If I’m truthful, Amazon, as I buy almost all my studio supplies there. I probably shouldn’t but the time it saves me is incalculable!

Do you have an unforgettable place that you have travelled to?

I went on safari in Tanzania a few years back. The Ngorongoro crater, thought to be where human life started, was pretty staggering. If you can imagine what the start of life looks like, this is probably it.

What is the best gift that you have ever received?

Not exactly gifts but probably my dogs, Trotsky and Tony. They encouraged me to take up running, they get me or of the house regularly and into contact with other people, which used to be rare, and keep me company in what can be a lonely job.

You used to work in a bar, do you still pull a mean pint or do you have a lethal weapon cocktail?

I don’t like cocktails and never make them. I’m not a big drinker but did come to appreciate good wine. I’d far rather buy an expensive bottle and eke it out over a week than drink lots of the cheap stuff.

Polly wears the Darwin Knit in Silver.