Beauty in Death – Ferry van Torgeren and Jaap Sinke

I don’t think I have written much about it before, but I make art out of insects.  This isn’t necessarily a blatant plug for my own work, but if you are interested in seeing what I do you can find my details on Instagram under WidowCrankybugs.  There is something so beautiful in the wild and weird world of nature, which has become something of a lost art.  Now, I am not in agreement in killing animals for the sake of art – that isn’t my style, nor would I like taxidermy which has been created from an animal killed in the name of sport, but when art is created out of animals and insects which have lived their life cycle it becomes something of a memorial to the beauty which they gave the world and that we as humans generally overlook because we are very used to seeing these things around us, to the point we are  almost blind to it.  How often do you stop and watch a butterfly going about its daily business, or have you become too busy to watch nature in your day to day life?

As you can imagine, making art from insects means I have a keen interest in taxidermy generally and I have written before about my friends business who shows and sells all sorts of macabre items which each hold their own unique beauty, but I have been overwhelmed by the taxidermy art of Tongeren and Sinke.

Their inspiration has been taken from 17th century paintings, where the colours and structures of animals within the works which highlight the flamboyant nature of the creatures.  Artists such as Jan Weenix, Melchior d’Hondecoeter and Adriaen van Olen have been quoted as their inspirations and you can really see the echoes of these artists within the taxidermy created.

Tongeren and Sinke have reverted their technique to Victorian methods of taxidermy, shunning the more modern route of purchasing ready made mannequins which the skin can be stretched over, rather moulding the interior themselves to ensure that the animal is given the memorial which is befitting to its beauty.  Each piece can take them months to produce, but their style and flare can be seen in the finished product, showing each animal in their full glory.

Now, I am sure that we have all seen terrible taxidermy, you know the type, the otter with a face that looks like it has been smashed with a frying pan, or the fox that looks as though it has a horrendous class A drug habit, but you will not see that with this pair.  Their work is astounding and unique.

In he picture displayed above, you can see many different types of lizards, set on glass jars, each look as though they are crawling from the jars and so life like.  Each of the lizards unique beauty is captured, each scale in place and  positions you would expect to see from these creatures in life.

Regardless of how you think of taxidermy, I think it is difficult to deny the astounding beauty with Tongeren and Sinke capture.  They are a testament to old techniques and an art which is now deemed as something reserved for those who prefer the darker side of life.

Taxidermy of this standard, isn’t really about death, it is about capturing beauty. It is documenting a creature which has contributed and given to our life cycle which we may not even have bared a thought to in its life, but we can truly appreciate it in its death.  The pair work with all sorts of animals, from a Flamingo with its wings raised, showing its full glory, to monkeys with their tails raised.  Parrots and birds feature highly in their work, showing the beautiful colours in their plumage, captured as a moment for eternity.

The pair include Charles Darwin in their group – acting as a dead silent (get it) executive director to their business, as he also serves as an inspiration to the pair, and they feel he would have certainly approved of their methods and art work.

Tongeren and Sinke have very good connections with Zoos, farms, hobbyists and anyone else who might own live and interesting animals, as soon as one dies, these people get in touch with them to find out if they are interested in capture the beauty forever more – so please don’t think that they are out hunting down penguins and flamingos.

If you want to find out more about their work you can find their website here

What do you think of Taxidermy?  Why not tell me in the comments?  Like this post?  Why not share it?

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