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The Fine Art of Taxidermy at Jamb
19 June 2015

This week our world of Antique Fireplaces, Lighting and Furniture coalesced with the fine art of taxidermy at Jamb with a new delivery of art works from taxidermists Darwin, Sinke & Van Tongeren.

A Livingstone Turaco and a Fischer Turaco

Jamb’s collaboration with the artists started last October during the Frieze Art Fair when we were delighted to host the inaugural exhibition with Jaap Sinke and Ferry van Tongeren’s collection entitled ‘Darwin’s Menagerie

A magnificent cock fight display from Darwin’s Menagerie

It was a fun and beautiful night with wine flowing and the most delicious cheese, meats and beer brought over from Holland and ardently served all night by Jaap and Ferry’s wifes.

As Henreitta Thompson for the Telegraph noted, they have ‘ elevated taxidermy to a fine art’. When Damien Hirst came to see the show he bought every single piece for his Murderme collection.

Since childhood I have always been drawn to taxidermy and currently it is enjoying a considerable renaissance. I was staggered during my Christies sale in 2011 when the Victorian Chihuahua fetched more than twenty times it’s original estimate! But the work of Darwin, Sinke and van Tongeren is different to anything I have previously seen.

A Snowy Owl perches on a 19th century book cover with Ostrich Tail

With tremendous skill, patience and passion they take inspiration from the 17th century old masters Jan Weenix, Melchior d’Hondecoeter and Adriaen van Olen who set out to portray the wonder of the exotic animals brought back to Europe by intrepid explorers. After studying the set and the poses in the compositions the artists stretch the possibilities of anatomy to the limits of nature with traditional and modern techniques. Each art piece is totally unique with never a pose repeated and the moulds hand built in clay, wood and wire ( most taxidermists use factory moulds)

The White Peacock by Jan Weenix (1639/1643-1719)

Sinke & van Tongeren have been creating and working together for almost two decades. Originally they worked in the film industry and then created their own advertising company which they sold in 2000. After a year of travelling with his family van Tongeren realised that he wanted to follow the art of taxidermy and persuaded a notable Dutch taxidermist to let him learn from him. This led him to working part time at the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden preparing for important scientific collections and enabling him to learn a broad variety of techniques in one of the largest and oldest taxidermy collections in the world. So passionate was he about his change of direction that he persuaded Sinke to also train in taxidermic techniques and join him in this new venture.

The dance of the European Crane and Chilean Flamingo.

Even though Jamb’s aesthetic is predominantly that of the English Country house, I feel there is a direct continuity between a Baroque, bygone age which adds a luxury and depth to any interior. To me they are preserving history, both in an artistic and scientific way. What drives their creative energy is the respect and love they have for nature. They see it as their mission to preserve the glory in the beauty and magic that comes from nature and to encourage the viewer to look with new eyes at the natural world that surrounds us. Their message couldn’t come at a more important time and reminds us of how precious it all is. It is a privilege to be surrounded by their precious and magnificent work.