What/Who inspired you to take up taxidermy?
From an early age, I had a great interest in art and nature. When I was 12, I found a dead bird in the gutter and took it home to draw. After a while it started to smell, which didn't please my mum, so I investigated how I could preserve the animals I found. The revelation was that once preserved, the animals could be put in any position. After a couple of years, I stopped drawing and focused on preparing specimens. The fascination was to get things looking very real!
When did you start and what was the first item you worked on?
I first started in 1972. My first item was a linnet. I used ball-bearings for the eyes. I didn't think to paint them black, so all my early birds had metal steel coloured eyes!
What was your first break into the industry?
At age 16, I left home and started an apprenticeship with the Area Museum Services for the South of England in Colchester.
- Area Museum Services for 7 years
- A short period working for a commercial taxidermist in Sheffield
- Natural History Museum for 3 years in the early 1980's
- Private work in the film industry for a number of years
- Turned full time self employed in the 1990's
- I am known for my hybrid duck/rabbits
- I have created taxidermy and models on numerous films, including Return to Oz, Santa Claus the Movie (making erosion cast reindeer), Harry Potter (including a 21 foot dragon), Jungle Book, Midsummer Murders and Heston Blumenthal to name a few
- National Museum of Taiwan – making dinosaurs and creating 4 large dioramas (savanna, tundra, woodland and mangrove swamp)
- National Museum of Spain
- Work for all the British National Museums on a regular basis
Who inspired you the most when you were learning?
Who inspires you the most now or is it just Mother Nature?
My love of nature and art.
Have you helped or taught any successful students?
In the past, I have helped Emily Mayer and Steve Massam and I teach students on a regular basis.
- I was the first person to be awarded the title of Professional Membership of the Guild in 1980
- Specialist in birds, mammals and fish
- Master in birds
- Best in Show for birds, 1981 and 1982
- First place, Charles Waterton Bi-Centenary Award, 1983
- Birds first place, 1983
- Norfolk Trophy, 2003
- Snowdonia Trophy, 2003
- Themed Competition, 2017 and 2019
- Best Professional Mammal, first, second and third place, 2019
- Best Mammal, 2020
- Breakthrough Magazine Award, 2020
Guild Committee Work
I have been on the Guild Committee twice as an elected member.
- Frequent lectures for the Guild over the years on various taxidermy subjects
- Guest Speaker at various places, including The Natural History Museum, St. Martin's School of Art, The Royal College of Art, Roehampton University and Oxford University
- Illustrated talk for the public at The Museum for the History of Science and Tate Modern
- Contributed to various symposiums led by Professor Roger Kneebone at Imperial College, London, including 'The Art of Performing Science'
In the past I was frequently part of the judging panel at Guild events.
Derek Frampton, 2020