Little Pick Me Ups
Vegetarian Becky Dick, 25, from Stroud, chose a meaty career...
As blood trickled onto my workbench, I pushed the sharp scalpel into the rabbit’s flesh and peeled its skin and fur away.
I often get raised eyebrows when I tell people I’m a taxidermist, but the funniest reactions I get are when I go on to tell them I’m also a vegetarian!
‘Isn’t that a contradiction?’ people ask. But I don’t think it is at all. For almost two years, I’ve shunned meat, and haven’t struggled to reject the chicken, beef, and ham options on menus.
My main reason for going veggie was that I just couldn’t stand the way some animals are cooped up in tiny pens and raised for slaughter.
But taxidermy is different – I only work with animals that are already dead.
It’s not like I kill the animals – most of them actually come to me as roadkill.
As a child, my parents would take me to museums,
and I’d be fascinated by the
still-life animals on display. Growing up, I went on to study decorative arts at Nottingham Trent University.
And when I told my mum that I wanted to do a placement with a taxidermist, she was shocked.
‘You want to do what?!’ she cried, astonished.
But I was determined. My boyfriend Nim was more open-minded and even got me my first specimen.
‘I found this on the tram line,’ he said, handing me a dead squirrel.
‘Perfect!’ I said, placing it in the freezer next to the frozen peas. I named him Steve, and, the
next morning, I took him to my taxidermy trainer so he could show me the ropes. I soon learnt
that animals weren’t actually stuffed – they were skinned and then draped over a foam mould in the right shape.
It’s just like pulling off a sock!
I’d watched loads of taxidermy videos online before, so I didn’t feel squeamish at all as I set about skinning and mounting Steve.
It was a messy job, but once Steve was restored to his former glory, I felt so proud of myself.
I’d turned him into a work of art.
Today, I’m a qualified taxidermist.
The biggest animal I’ve worked on is a badger, but my dream is to one day preserve an exotic toucan – it would be such a challenge.
I may believe that meat is murder, but restoring already dead animals to their former glory is something I’m proud to be a part of.
To see Becky’s creations, go to www.taxtiles.com.
Great stuff Their former glory