A recording of this talk will be emailed to ticket holders who miss the live event
Live from Mexico on Zoom Joanna Ebenstein will tell us about how
Walter Potter (1835-1918), an amateur English taxidermist of no great expertise, became famous as an icon of Victorian whimsy with his anthropomorphic creations. Multi-legged kittens, two-headed lambs and a bewildering assortment of curios crammed his tiny museum in Bramber, Sussex, and inspired future generations of taxidermists to come.
The curious world of Potter’s museum was permanently closed to the public in the ’70s, after which time it was variously re-established before being auctioned off in 2003. It was reported that a £1M bid by Damien Hirst to keep the collection intact was refused, but in 2010 many of Potter’s key pieces were exhibited by the artist Sir Peter Blake at London’s ‘Museum of Everything’, attracting over 30,000 visitors in 6 weeks.
The subsequent dispersal of Potter’s works has meant the loss of a truly unique Victorian legacy. Together with co-author Dr Pat Morris, Joanna Ebenstein preserves and celebrates the collection with new photographs of Potter’s best-loved works in their book Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy.
Tonight, learn more about Potter with a short talk by Ebenstein paired with a screening of The Man Who Married Kittens, a short documentary look at one of Victorian England’s most enigmatic and quirky characters. Amateur taxidermist, Walter Potter, became an unlikely success by putting his creatures in human positions and scenarios, referred to as anthropomorphic taxidermy. Potter’s Museum, filled with his creations and collection of oddities and curiosities dazzled millions for over a hundred years until the collection’s unfortunate separation in 2003. While largely about the man and his creations, the film also takes a look at the obsessive nature of collecting, as well as the controversial history of stuffing dead animals
Joanna Ebenstein is a Mexico based writer, curator, artist and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library and event series, and was cofounder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. She is author of The Anatomical Venus, editor of the forthcoming Death: A Graveside Companion (October 2017), and co-author, with Dr Pat Morris, of Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy. She works regularly with such institutions as The Wellcome Collection and Amsterdam’s Vrolik Museum, and her writing and photography have been published and exhibited internationally. Her work explores the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, and the objective and subjective.