5 creative examples of faux taxidermy

Taxidermy can be a controversial subject, but many of us enjoy sharing our homes with real, or not-so-real, animal companions. While for some the idea of motionless representations of once-living creatures is horrifying, for others including celebrity taxidermy fans Angelina Jolie, singer Jack White and illusionist Derren Brown, it is a source of pleasure and fascination.

Fierce creatures are inspiring to many artists and designers, and this may be why the taxidermy aesthetic has survived, flourishing even within a more ethically-minded, animal-loving society. And helping it to flourish is faux taxidermy.

What is faux taxidermy?

Faux taxidermy takes many forms, as you will see. Made from paper art to textiles, ceramics and other objects, all manner of artforms have been used to ensure that our fellow animals need not suffer for our visual pleasure.

So, if you aren't so keen on the idea of roadkill (or helpless hunt victims) being mounted on your wall, but enjoy the traditional aesthetic, these replica options might just be the inspiration you are looking for.

01. Paper taxidermy

Faux taxidermy - Anna-Wili Highfield

Highfield's work represents animal life in an immediate way that conveys the energy and movement of different creatures

Australian artist Anna-Wili Highfield's sculptures aren't strictly paper craft, but they give the same effect (without the wear and tear).

Stitching together archival cotton rags, she achieves modern 3D animal portraits, and in some cases, fully fledged paper animal sculptures (she also makes brass sheet animals).

Faux taxidermy - Anna-Wili Highfield Owl

Highfield's animals are an exquisite look at the physical character of different creatures

The daughter of a puppeteer, it's easy to see where Highfield got her penchant for manipulating 3D forms. The artist's aim is to "engineer a moment of contact with nature in a way that emphasises both the startling differences and similarities of human and animal forms and consciousness."

02. Textile taxidermy

Faux taxidermy - Donya Coward

Coward's wall-mounted animal heads are intricate pieces of art, preserving traditional crafts

This one kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Donya Coward's works take a lot more from the aesthetic of traditional taxidermy than Anna's.

Describing herself as a "textile taxidermist", Coward creates intricate and beautiful creatures while preserving the craftsmanship of antique laces, embroideries and haberdashery.

Faux taxidermy - Donya Coward pigeons

Coward creates intricate animals that, without closer inspection, could almost pass for the real thing

From birds in bell jars and wall-mounted dog heads to fully formed taxidermy foxes, her work is a plush tribute to the artform.

03. Air rifle BB taxidermy

Faux taxidermy - Courtney Timmermans

Subverting the traditional hunting mounts, Timmermans' Air Rifle BB animal heads are invincible

This one is a very original concept, and perhaps a commentary on the use of wall-mounted animal heads.

Using air rifle pellets, artist Courtney Timmermans has cleverly constructed these majestic wild creatures to look like hunting trophies. Except that, this time, they've gone unharmed in the making.

Faux taxidermy - Courtney Timmermans bear

Timmermans' Urban Herd are a group of bullet-proof animals, honouring the majestic beasts while reminding us of our historical cruelty

The results are a modern chrome stampede of some of the world's most powerful wildlife, dubbed 'Urban Herd' – perfect for a contemporary wall space.

04. Upholstered taxidermy

Faux taxidermy - Kelly Rene Jelinek

Jelinek's Little Stag Studio is dedicated to creating creatures for your home, from wall mounts to full-bodied animals

Artist Kelly Rene Jelinek’s last name means 'little stag' in Czech, so it's only appropriate that her livelihood come from creating beautiful faux taxidermy deer and other animals.

"Even when I was a small child they never scared or disgusted me – if anything, they fascinated me," the artist says.

Faux taxidermy - Kelly Rene Jelinek Dinosaur

Jelinek has even created a fabric dinosaur to grace your wall, if you so wish

Using upholstery fabric and techniques, Jelinek recreates the taxidermy deer and game mounts she was accustomed to seeing as a child growing up in rural Wisconsin. Her creations are also inspired by traditional folk art and modern notions of home decor.

She uses both resin and real antique antlers on her deer, moose and more, and her creations are custom made to fit in with any household decor.

05. Ceramic taxidermy

Faux taxidermy - Wookjae Maeng

Maeng's art explicitly evokes the reality of how we treat animals

Korean artist Wookjae Maeng makes his taxidermy sculptures from ceramic. He strives to express the relationship between humanity and nature, and to depict "creatures that merely exist without enjoying their natural right due to human classification and negligence."

Faux taxidermy - Wookjae Maeng's camouflage

Maeng blends graphic design with the idea of natural camouflage for this faux taxidermy

His thought-provoking designs often blend modern graphic design, geometric patterns and bold, man-made structures with the images of nature. It puts them striving for coexistence and balance between the urban and the natural.

Faux taxidermy - Wookjae Maeng dog

This disturbing look at the dark side of animals in art poses the questions Maeng is keen to ask

Maeng says that he hopes to "provide an opportunity – however brief – for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists, even as he continues his daily existence indifferent to it."

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Alice Pattillo

Alice Pattillo is a freelance journalist with a passion for heavy metal, horror, science fiction, fantasy and comics. She has over seven years experience in magazines, formerly working as a staff writer at Creative Bloq, Imagine FX, Computer Arts and 3D World, as production editor for Guitar World and Guitar Player and online editor of Metal Hammer.