This story is over 5 years old.

The Hate Issue

Stuff the Mice

Taxidermists are considered weird with good reason.
Κείμενο Sophie Pike

Photo by Greg Harris

Taxidermists are considered weird with good reason. They disembowel and dress up dead kitty cats and puppies. That’s how they voluntarily spend their time. Jewellery designer Julia Black, however, is not your stereotypical mule-skinner. Her innocence and style make the process oddly romantic and beautiful. Julia recalls her bizarre initiation into the world of taxidermy. “I was in the garden in my pyjamas with a hacksaw,” she says. “I was sawing off a fox’s head while my housemate watched, eating her breakfast. It was so full on. The fox had blood dripping out of its nose and it took me about half an hour to saw through. I said to myself, ‘This is a test to see if I’ve got what it takes.’ Now, working with dead things is so familiar, I can’t imagine doing anything else.’” Julia Black established Abattoir at age 19, back in 2001. She combines her taxidermy and silversmith training to convert dead rodents, baby birds and animal foetuses into brooches, charms and trinkets. Unlike Gucci, she opts for skinning mice instead of minks. I mean, mice have fur too—right? Why doesn’t that cost $40,000 or whatever a mink costs now? It’s blatantly species-ist if you ask me. That’s why I proudly wear mouse. Julia admits, “Most people think my work is pretty morbid, but it’s not that I like death. I’m just trying to preserve living things. I’m taking something I think is beautiful and trying to make people see that.” Brazilian designer Karlla Girotto also uses taxidermy to make jewellery, and Alexander “screaming” McQueen has used stuffed owls and ravens, but mice have never been in vogue until now. Julia says, “People do get upset about what I do, but I don’t kill any animals for my work.” I use animals that are found dead or bought already deceased from pet stores.” Unlike those murderous fashion houses with blood all over their claw-like hands (okay, that might be a bit rich), the little critters in Julia Black’s Abattoir are granted the dignity of a natural death. Abattoir is stocked at Zoology, 203 Gertrude St Fitzroy