This was my first and last performance entitled 'D.I.Y Taxidermy'
When I first conceived the idea of live taxidermy...I felt a little bit weird. Was this right? Was this a good idea? The more I thought about it the easier it was to stomach. I had only ever half skinned a fox before so the thought of skinning animals in front of a live audience was daunting-espically as I had no real clue what I was doing. I decided not to think about it and let the magic happen spontaneously. 

The first thing I did was get out the 'pickled rat' (for more information of the rat see a previous blog). This rat had been sitting in it's own bloody vodka juice for well over 6 months. Pulled out by it's tail, I then proceeded to ring it out so all the rat juice dripped away- I then poured shots of blood rat dirt water- no one drunk it.
The rest was more like a D.I.Y cooking show, done in a relaxed style where I would rabbit on about this and that, explaining where and how I came across such a curious selection; Deceased family goldfish, secretly saved by my sister in cigarette packets in the frezzer, compleatly flat rabbits scrapped up on roadkill missions, Birthday foxes brought to me in the middle of the night, crows and ravens battered by a hateful farmer and headless owls I had jumped out of cars for. All beautiful and all destined to die.

Nothing was intentionally harmed by me- everything was exactly how it was meant to be
My main materials were salt, vodka and shake'n'vac-  Considering I know absolutely nothing about the subject these were my aspiring taxidermists essentials. Thinking about preservation from a base point linear level- Salt is actually amazing at keeping things longer, if not forever-?
Ethanol is what you get mixed with specimens in jars...so why not vodka?  
Shake'n'vac just smells divine.

As soon as you walked into the space, there was the honking smell of death- death and grannies.
It was the Acid Fox positioned in the first room with the bar- ha ha.

 Some people thought it was a brilliant addition to the show- others felt differently and I was asked by the gallery person to remove it a day later as there had been complaints. I didn't mind the smell but apparently it was seeping through the floor boards and he found it offensive. 

I was genuinely hurt by his comments! I couldn't believe that he had asked me to remove one of my personaly best loved pieces! This Fox had been though everything. It couldn't be keep it in my house because the smell was too bad, so I kept it in a suitcase underneath various cars in our driveway- In retrospect, I should have let people know that I was doing this because on a few unfortunate occasions it was opened by unsuspecting housemates and even run over. After all this I realized that I couldn't risk loosing it so kept it in my spare room and when guests came I would move it into my bath....

Anyway, there was only 2 more days left of the show so casually asked if he would be coming into the gallery- after the response was 'No', I made the executive decision to keep the fox exactly where it was and assault it with yet more fruity fragrances. It gave the place more of a buzz, or maybe I was getting high off the fumes myself??? Sometimes I would drift off asleep in the same room as the fox(maybe I was intoxicated?!)

Days after the exhibition had finished I heard rumors of a life drawing class. Some woman was complaining about the smell and was later sick- very funny.
The response from the show was greatly varied in a great way. I wouldn't have called it family friendly so much so it had a warning on the door and down the road, so when I opened the door to a real life family- I had to restate that there was potentially offensive material inside, especially for children- they did not seem phased! So in I let a grandmother, father, mother and 2 children, one still in a push-chair..... Instantly the push-chair bound child started to cry. I overheard the Grandmother say 'Don't worry children, this is Art' Great I thought! I've made Art!
 They didn't stay long and as they left I asked the young boy if he was scarred.
'No! No I was not scarred, I was not scarred one bit!' I told him he was very very brave.

An old lady stumbled in and as she stumbled out I asked what she had thought and if she enjoyed it.
'Well, I wouldn't say I enjoyed it- but if this is art then it's very interesting'

  The people who came wanted to come and they came for the reasons that they had. Some people looked for hours, others just minutes but all had something to say.

This lady above stares wishfully at a real life sighned autograph of Katie Price . It reads: 'To my Special friend Charlie Gates,
Thank you for all of your support. Our friendship is truthful and helped enhance each others lives'
I am a massive fan of Katie Price aka Jordan. Huge I am. So huge a fan that when I discovered that you could get a signed autograph for a 5 £English from her website, I was all over it- my excitement heightened further when I discovered that for an extra 5IVer she'll write whatever you want!!! OMG!

This wasn't actually what I had requested her to write but she got the gist and I was happy with her own twist as it showed more of her personality. Lots of people asked me if things were real- Everything you think is real is really very real. There is hidden reality everywhere- like crack pipes and squashed birds, snakeskin heads over the top of light bulbs, curious collections of 'is it? isn't that?'...

'Look What The Stork Brung'

I was actually massively afraid of having this show. With the 'I'm Thinking of Something Stranger' exhibition, it was very easy to make things look good in a warehouse environment under candle light. However this was a proper gallery with white walls and everything. I was afraid because with white walls, there is no where to hide and things have to stand up for themselves.

Also I have learnt something from this- I have decided to learn. Perviously and all my life, I have always put up some huge barrier between me, art and knowledge. I find art and it's language alienating to people like me. I do find big words hard, I have been to many many different schools so my education is a mixed bag.
At university I found knowledge stifling because it makes you afraid of creating. People would make you think things and justify everything but it was those very things which I was trying to escape from through art. 

 In my world ignorance is bliss. I did not want or care to know. I was happy making and doing without any thought to the outside world and other perceptions, but that does not cut the mustard in the art world. 
 I became afraid- I hated university and when I left I told them all I was going to work on the shopping channel.

   After graduating, something strange happened- I started to spontaneously create! I was lucky enough to get a secret warehouse underneath Bow Flyover big enough for a plane. This became my own world that hardly anyone one new about and less people came into. It was like walking into the backdoor of somones head and that person was very strange. 
I would go there and be on my own and sing and be completely happy.

Word spread supprisingly. People did start to know and gradulay I did start to show them. However, with the people came the questions and people also wanted answers as to why I had made such strange assembledges. The massive wall came down again. I had no answers, I had nothing to say and I didn't want to say anything. 

Anyway back to learning somthing- If I want to take this art stuff seriously then I need to take myself seriously which means I need to understand where it comes from. It means trying to understand something which I have purposely kept hidden from myself  for as long as possible. 

Perviously I couldn't and wouldn't want to explain why I create what I do. I do it instinctively, automatically and unconsciously. Things just appear and then I make visual sense of them by moving them around unconsciously. However, even unconscious thoughts have conscious beginnings. 

My work is basically surrealism and if I can learn to channel these seeminly unconscious creative actions through my conscious mind with more purpose then perhaps I will get further. The only other thing I am afraid of is basically not being good enough.... 

My reasoning behind things is so personal and experiences pushed way way back- I don't want to be a Tracy Emin type...but I think I am one. It is all biographical- everything derives from experience and some- like my work, have been terrifying. Why would I want to talk about that?Why would I want to bring it all back up? But the thing is I have been and I have been doing it for years though my work- It's just something I haven't wanted to consciously look at because it means looking at these parts of yourself. 

Anyway- a critic said that even though a lot of it looks good- there is nothing behind it- well fuck you. I am going to learn and I am going to have something to say and when I say it you will probably be sick. 
(that was meant in a purely humous way)
Love from
Charlie Gates


  1. sounds like you already said a shit load - and i for one, ejoyed and identified. as a fellow arrrteest its all about conceptualising my work. i only learnt that when i was good n ready. no way did i give a shit about the why, the how and the what of my art practice in the beginning. its all a process. thanks for sharing - love your work and all it has to say!! lesley.


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