Taxidermy, Bugs, and Flying 'Fairy Skeletons': The Art of Tessa Farmer

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

"I'm more interested in evolution and survival, and how things adapt to their surroundings -- and it's really about eating, finding food, and hunting," the London-based artist explains in the video below. Farmer's sculptures are haunting dioramas and floating installations created with elements found in nature, tweezers, and glue. She crafts tiny humanlike skeletons and gives them insect wings so they look like evil little sprites. In one piece, a dead mouse faces off with a miniscule knight: a bony fairy sporting ladybug wings and a lance, riding a black beetle. Don't let the butterflies fool you; Farmer's imaginary universe is violent and totally unnerving. 

No animals are harmed in the making of her work, Farmer says; "I find a lot of dead insects in the streets ... I'm always looking at the ground. Then I pick them up. They have do be dead. I don't kill things." This documentary portrait was produced by Alex Tobin, Adrea Cadorin, and Tom Ellis for Gestalten, a publisher of books on art and design. 

Watch more videos by Gestalten on the Atlantic Video channel

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http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/10/taxidermy-bugs-and-flying-fairy-skeletons-the-art-of-tessa-farmer/263546/