STUFFED gets 9/10 Great forms

Directed by Erin Derham


Stuffed is a decadent extravaganza, leaving you feeling like you’ve just rolled around in a warm bath of art and nature. It’s deliciously gorgeous and utterly breathtaking, revelling in the world of exquisite taxidermy. Featuring the stars of the modern taxidermy world, director Erin Derham immerses the audience in the sheer beauty contained within the art of maintaining the beauty of animals for posterity.

Unpacking the mystique around the art and the people behind it, Derham’s interviews with taxidermy artists are honest and brilliantly uncovers what some may perceive as macabre or brutal. The breathtaking pieces showcased throughout are a testament to how much this is nothing less than fine art, requiring dedication, skill and an eye for beauty.

Multiple techniques and styles of taxidermy are introduced and, while educational, it is not intentionally didactic in the presentation utilised by Derham. Her personal intrigue with the artform is at the fore throughout, and makes for a fascinating film which explores an oft misunderstood art experiencing a resurgence.

There is a solid emphasis on the sustainability inherent to the craft, with most artists elucidating on their preference for animals who have died naturally or in captivity being repurposed and reused. The piece on Lonesome George, the last Galapagos tortoise to exist and subsequently preserved after his death for posterity, brings tears to the hardest eyes. The magnificence in preserving history in this way is nothing short of stunning when witnessing it firsthand from the artist himself. This is joy in art personified. From gorgeous long shots of final pieces to stunning close-ups of feathers and fur, every moment is pure joy.

From Allis Markham’s journey to fame in her extremely successful LA-based store Prey Taxidermy and her love for birds, to Dutch team Jaap Sinke and Ferry Von Tongeren’s artistic approach to dynamic poses with their subjects, to the delicate beauty of diaphonisation, it is a rollercoaster of adoration for animals.

Forms are the underlying base for pelts to be stretched over, and the work that goes into these unseen structures is eye-openingly, achingly divine. Watching forms being sculpted with microscopic attention to detail is something not to be soon forgotten.

Touching on rogue taxidermy, whereby multiple animals are combined into one piece of commentary, there is something for every art aficionado or animal lover herein. Worth the watch for the examinations of live animals to understand their movements in order to encapsulate it in their work, the live cougar is a standout, as much as the pelt of a dead black leopard.

Stuffed opens up a whole new world of appreciation for art, nature and animals, and is well worth a look before it closes at Revelation Film Festival.


Stuffed plays as part of the Revelation Film Festival at Luna Leederville on Saturday 13th July at 1:45pm