Stuffed roadkill tea party makes up art exhibition

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An eccentric art exhibition which goes on show in the Capital tomorrow features a 50-piece “menu” of mouth-watering mice rolls and a rack of rodent toast.

The show is the brainchild of taxidermist Samantha Boyes, who combined two of her loves – taxidermy and cake – to come up with the work.

Samantha Boyes' masterpiece. Picture: Greg Macvean

Samantha Boyes' masterpiece. Picture: Greg Macvean

Her children, Doughal, nine, Primrose, eight, and two-year-old George, even gave her a helping hand – looking out for roadkill while enjoying car rides in the countryside.

She said: “My two favourite things – after my kids – are cakes and taxidermy so that’s where the idea came from.

“It seems natural to me to mix the two and I am really pleased that people seem to like the results. The children are fascinated by it and think it’s normal as well – my daughter is particularly good at spotting roadkill.

“I think the humour in it captures people’s imagination and makes them smile, and the reaction I have had has already been phenomenal.”

Samantha Boyes and her family. Picture: Jon Savage

Samantha Boyes and her family. Picture: Jon Savage

Ms Boyes, who has a background in fine arts, was taught the basics by expert taxidermist George Jamieson in Cramond before spending time in Ohio, where she learned the freeze-dry technique.

She returned to the UK and set up a workshop in Morningside where most of her creations are now cooked up.

Her unusual designs have won her a place at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy where The Cake Stand – a selection of cream cakes, insects, birds and wee beasties – can be digested until January.

Many of the dishes are determined by the condition of the animals, most of which have given their life to art on local roads.

The newest creation, High Tea for Six, will be served at the Union Gallery in Broughton Street for two months.

Its scrumptious centrepiece – a rich raven gateaux complete with bumblebees and ladybirds – is dished up on Royal Stuart crockery beside the finest silverware.

And while Samantha said she has always been interested in the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals for display, she believes the pastime is making a comeback in the Capital.

“People are curious about taxidermy anyway and it is definitely having a revival,” she said. “I am really interested to see the reaction to this work. I have an idea for something even bigger but I’m not saying what until we see how people react to High Tea.”

Union Gallery owner Alison Auldjo said the installation already had people stopping in the street.

She said: “It has caused quite a stir already and that was when it was just being installed. We’ve had people queuing up to look through the windows. I have never seen so many families and interested people stopping to have a peek.

“The pieces are just beautiful and it is fascinating to be able to get so close to animals as well. I think it is going to be very popular.”

The exhibition opens today and will run until January 20.