The other day, while searching for what I thought would be the piece de resistance for Oliver’s Boreal Forest Room: a stag bust or antler hooks, I came across the work of artist Rachel Denny.
Cosy woolen sweaters stretched over foam animals busts, Rachel’s work explores “the seductive beauty of our natural world and the imprint that human intervention has made on its flora and fauna.” I see it also as a commentary on our tendency to anthropomorphize animals. Dressing these elegant creatures in our own image, we view them according to our anthropocentric lens, either as cute, cuddly pets, or conversely, as trophies of our own dominance over nature.
But then again, in Denny’s sculptures there is a softer side. By putting her animals in sweaters – knit from the very fibers of their coats, in a slow process that mimics the organic rhythms of the natural world – Rachel is also attempting to bridge the gap. Reminding us that we are guardians as well as hunters. Or even that though our civilized advancements may separate us from our natural state, we and these beasts are indeed cut from the same cloth.