Student Spotlight: Not My Cup of Tea- Loughborough

by Cass Art Student Ambassador

Not My Cup Of Tea is an exhibition showcasing the work of 22 second-year Fine Art students from Loughborough University. Pieces on show range from painting, to photography, to taxidermy and sculpture. The diverse variety of the work encourages considerations and dialogue about personal artistic taste, and by not enforcing a theme for the show, the exhibiting artists have been able to produce work intrinsically relevant to their own practice, and their own concerns surrounding the contemporary art scene.

Loughborough Fine Art student and Cass Art Ambassador, Rebecca Prout, will be showing her own work in the exhibition, and has also offered to interview fellow student and exhibiting artist, Joe Philpott, for us. For his exhibition piece, Joe has created an installation dealing with concerns around the topic of animal and human relations. Keep reading to hear Joe's thoughts and find out more about the show.

Detail from Letting the Cock Guard the Hen House, 2016

The piece you are exhibiting is called Letting the Cock Guard the Hen House,  what form does the work take and why?

It's a taxidermy-based installation piece, which mimics a museum diorama depicting the environment in which domestic hens are housed. The staged piece shows a fox, standing amidst a flurry of startled hens. This dramatic scene is enclosed within a hen house, with an additional exterior focus of a cockerel poised on a hay bale. 

Taxidermy is typically used to preserve exotic creatures and wildlife, and is fundamental within my practice- in this piece I use the craft to depict a commonly overlooked commodity: the hen.

Is there a deliberate narrative within your work?

My work engages a narrative by playing with the idea of stereotypes- I'm interested in humans' perceptions of animals, which often stem from the simplified versions we see portrayed in children's books. 

For the title of this work I have manipulated a well known proverb; "letting the fox guard the hen house"; to subvert its meaning, and to encourage the viewer to critique and question their own views on animals.

How did you source the animals for this installation?

The animals used in this project were not killed for the purpose of taxidermy, and died of either natural causes or from unpreventable death, which I reference in my work. They were all going to be disposed of in the usual way, but have instead found a second life through re-appropriation for this piece.

How does your work relate to contemporary art along a similar vein?

Within contemporary art, the role of animals has drastically changed over the last two decades. This change has been coupled with an increased media focus and widespread awareness of animal rights issues. I am inspired by the work of Mark Dion and the writings of Giovanni Aloi, (editor of Antennae journal) both of whom explore the importance of animals within the context of modern society.

Feeling Inspired?

See Joe's and Rebecca's work as part of Not My Cup Of Tea, between Monday 2nd - Friday 6th May, 2016 (11am-5pm daily)- The Swan In The Rushes pub, Loughborough

If you are a student, and would like the chance to see your artwork or exhibition featured on the Cass Art blog email our Student Team with up to 3 images of your work and a short artist bio.

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