Three of my favourite works from House of Beasts at Attingham Park – Refuge, Insecticide 17 and Swan. The show is on until 14th July.

Tucked away in the housekeeper’s room is Nina Saunders’s work called Refuge. One sees the head of a fox snuggled into the folds of a distorted armchair. The following extract is taken from the accompanying booklet to the exhibition produced by Meadow Arts and The National Trust. (For more information go and see the exhibition itself!)

“Nina Saunders is known for stretching and contorting traditional pieces of furniture in which she integrates animals of the type that populate children’s literature, folk tales and our collective unconscious………..In contrast to the grand rooms upstairs, the housekeeper’s room is cosy and full of heart-warming pictures of animals. This represents a gentle and domestic relation to pets and farm animals, which is yet another form of idealisation”

Mat Collishaw’s Insecticide 17 is a gigantic photograph of a squashed insect is resplendent above a fireplace in a grand room, a place “usually reserved for portraits of the notable and powerful. An infinite number of parasites and insects can be found in our homes. The artist has captured the moment of their death with a sense of tragedy and violence contrasting with our habitual indifference towards the death of an insect. These same small creatures can cause enormous damage and are a constant preoccupation for the conservation teams of the National Trust. Their fight against this invisible enemy is illustrated here on the grandest of scales.”

Daphne Wright’s Swan is a cast taken from a young male who died in a swan sanctuary. Facing the river where a couple of live swans regularly nest, year after year, where the offspring are involved in a touch and go, life and death struggle.

Wright’s background and interest in memorialising animal death is discussed on a You Tube video on this piece. 

Daphne Wright’s Swan at House of Beasts – YouTube

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