Dicing With Death

You can sense and smell death before you see it.... A smell like no other. It is far sweeter than you imagine and lingers for days after the body has been removed. This smell has come to be part of the experience of my work....Some people have been sick after entering the exhibition space where I have been but I think that's just the really sensitive people. You get used to it

Dicing With Death was ...well I was nervous. Every time someone asked me how I was feeling I felt worse because they made me actually acknowledge how I was feeling and I was trying my hardest to shut it away. The more you think about things the more obsessed and worried you can become so I try and avoid that by not thinking at all. Gut instinct stuff. So to start off the 'performance' (which was more like a science lesson from a supply teacher who had only read notes before the lesson,) I got out the famous rat in bloody vodka water. It smelt worse than ever. It even smelt through the jar it's in. Then came the rabbit and the dear head which, when I skinned, actually came off better than expected! I was surprised as I thought it would be harder. Then I asked for volunteers- anyone want to have a stab? And people did! There were loads of people and most of them I didn't even know!

 I left everything lying around so the next day I came in and the smell was just...well it was death filling the entire room.. It was dark.

Certain sculptures looked nice, but get a bit closer and things were not how they seemed...and they smelt. That is why I had to take it all down after just one and a bit days- gutted- literally. So I packed it away and put everything into suitcases and marinated them in salt. Whatever you do- never borrow or open a suitcase of mine because you never know what is or had been inside.....

Fox In A Box

I got this tip from my father. About 6 or seven years ago now a photography friend of mine asked me to do a shoot in which I would fondle the inside of a pig, cuddling it's guts dressed as a princess. Anyway, after the shoot my father did away with the remains by putting them in a briefcase and then throwing that into a skip. Ha. Poor bastard who found that..... It has become family tradition.

I was at Secret Garden doing a 'Voodoo' themed bar and installation for the Crossroads tent-the farmer heard I was there. He came to visit me, had a few words about animals and then left. Later that night he brought me warm rabbits.What the bloody hell was I supposed to do with them at a stinking hot festival?!

I hung them up in my cabin...Completely unaware the bands would be storing their stuff there the next day. I wasn't too popular after that. I also buried loads of rabbit heads and left a suitcase full of 'natural refuse'...I could not take it home so left it....poor bastards.....The animals, not the people who found it.

I never set out to shock. And it surprises me that people are shocked. That sounds weird but because I had been working on my own and in secret for so long, I came to see these things that I do as almost normal.
I am not a taxidermist. I am honest about that. I am an artist who uses found objects. I am interested in the art of collecting. I am a hoarder. I hate waste. I see beauty and use in everything- even the dead.

Any Holes A Goal!

A view I have come to discover about my practice is that it is somehow exploitation...But how can that be when the things I use have been found or rescued, everything 'useful' stripped from it and the rest only intended for the fumier? No one cares about them when they are on the side of the road or in giant bins hidden away down in some little known village in the countryside. But when they are put in front of you suddenly its exploitation....I love animals- I am fascinated by them. I am fascinated by life and by death. I experience the processes after death, letting things rot, burying them and digging them back up. Working back into the remains...
Your Nan's Fit

I hate being told what to do- I hate being told how to think and how things should be done. I would rather work it out for myself- make mistakes and learn from them. How did we learn anything in the first place? I am not afraid of discovery- It's very easy to do something when someone shows you how. It is easy to paint a picture when someone shows you which bit goes where, colour/perspective.... but the outcomes will be similar if not the same. There is nothing creative about that- there is no excitement- no discovery.
That's how I feel about my journey with taxidermy. It's not even real taxidermy by any strech of the imagination. My techniques are crude. I am interested in preserving death. I am making it us as I go along- trying different things and finding my own way rather than following the line of others. I have found some people have a problem with this.
 My practice was born out of curiosity and morbid creativity. In my head I give these creatures a new life in sculptures.
Creating something that was never meant to be seen again.

I am interested in preserving death where as taxidermists are interested in preserving the illusion of life.
Love from
Charlie Gates


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