While the crew unloads from the taxi, Polly Morgan welcomes us at the door of her studio. A porcelain-skinned English rose, her mind seems elsewhere – she’s tied to her Mac and animatedly instructing her assistant, who’s busy assembling a production line of carefully positioned dead birds. Her studio is a former industrial building in Hackney Wick, an area that today is up against the science fiction of Olympic hype and corporate entertainment. She has lived in Hackney Wick for the past eight years. During that time, the Wick has built a reputation as being the new centre for east London art, but things are changing. A graffiti mural by a local artist has been replaced by an advertisement for Coca Cola. “I was horrified when London won the 2012 Olympics, because I liked the fact that it was very wild, with loads of industry here. I resented that it was always referred to as a wasteland, like there was nothing going on. It’s not just a destination. People wouldn’t come out here to restaurants and boutiques. They just didn’t know about it, which was really nice. But people always find out about places and colonise them. All the warehouses will get built up and Foxtons will take them over.”
Morgan’s work, which has been collected by Kate Moss and Charles Saatchi, has also been exhibited alongside the likes of Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. Her lack of art education – she studied English at Queen Mary – was compensated by the advice of the artists she served drinks to while working behind the bar at Electricity Showrooms, just off east London’s art epicentre, Hoxton Square. “I didn’t know who many of these people were actually, so I wasn’t in any way starstruck. It’s only now that I look back and think it’s funny that I was hanging out with all these people at the top of their game. I was friendly with Dinos Chapman and knew his work. I already really liked their stuff because I’d been to Sensation when I was 16. I didn’t have that fear you have when you meet your idols, and I think I was quite easy with people like that. They were always really encouraging of what I was doing. No one made me feel like I shouldn’t be making the leap from bar person to artist.”
Morgan is a member of the Guild of Taxidermists. After trying out drawing, photography and then journalism, it was only when she discovered taxidermy that something clicked. “I think it helped that I wasn’t surrounded by other taxidermists soI didn’t feel there was any competition,” she says. “If I’d have done something like photography or painting, I’d have known so many other people doing it better than me – it would’ve put me off and I would’ve felt a bit defeated. Producing a piece of crap taxidermy was better than producing no taxidermy at all.”
See more of polly’s work here.
Read more of our exclusive interview in Issue Two of The Hunger, on sale now.