Harriet Horton

Harriet Horton: Sleep Subjects

Repulsed by the fusty impala torsos procured by macho trophy-hunting and goths shrinking squirrel heads to wear on velvet necklaces alike, taxidermist Harriet Horton has gone on her own way. Strictly ethical about procuring already deceased animals, she takes regular trips to her parental home in near-rural Stratford-Upon-Avon and makes use of a deep-freezer in her east London home.

Horton’s approach to taxidermy has always set out to explore animals in a foreign environment from their original habitat. The animals are stuffed, dyed then positioned on marble and concrete plinths, lit by luminescent halos of neon. The site-specific installations are then soundtracked with eerie industrial-classical music. Horton’s 2015 “Sleep Subjects” exhibition, shown in a crypt in Euston, was very successful.

“I was playing around with different aesthetics and thought of incorporating neon. When I used it, I realised its warm temperature and how relaxing it feels. It changes both your mood and that of the piece, and it makes the taxidermy less about death. I really don’t like the gothic side of taxidermy, it’s not for me. So instead I’ll place a magpie under simple white neon arc and the wings are down but the body’s curved perpendicular to the neon. It’s surreal but unless you know a lot about ornithology it wouldn’t look very weird; it’s just a subtle change to its posture.”- harriet Horton

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