Working with the Camden Summer university and the Wellcome Collection
In the summer of this year I had the fabulous opportunity to work with the brilliant young people of the Camden Summer University, on a project called Urban Human, Urban Animal. Based at the Wellcome collection, the group of teens who are on the autistic spectrum, used cameras and mounting equipment to create stop motion films.
I was asked by filmmaker and educator Suzanne Cohen, to inspire the group with a short presentation about how taxidermy can be featured in art and science. Surrounded by the 'Making nature' exhibit in the Wellcome Collection, the group learnt how taxidermy is created, and what its uses have been throughout history. I also explained how certain preserved specimens can be used in different aspects of science, for example DNA extraction or morphological analysis.
My Masters thesis focused on the use of morphological characteristics to determine 'pure' or hybrid status of wildcats collected form around Scotland, and I discussed this with the group, how the assessment of dead and preserved animals can be useful when making decisions about their future conservation
The group were great at coming up with innovative ideas about taxidermy and how to create the films, and they used a selection of skulls from my collection, as well as 'human' creations like crumpled coke cans, to create a picture of co-habitation between humans and animals.
Overall I had a fantastic time working with the group, and I hope they all enjoyed the session, they definitely enjoyed handling the skulls!
These are posts written by Punk Biologist