Tag Archive: alison brierly


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I am a Roadkill Recycler, Cook and Wild Food Forager. 
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I often hold  impromptu workshops at camps and small festivals, teaching the joys of Roadkill Preparation and Preservation.
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HOWEVER… I AM AVAILABLE TO FACILITATE AND TAILOR INDIVIDUAL WORKSHOPS AND DEMONSTRATIONS UPON REQUEST.
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I love what I do.
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I am a very happy scavenger and I dislike waste.
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true story of a roadkill cook
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Wild Meat!

“It always amazes me how squeamish your average carnivore is!”

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My workshops are either individually tailored or totally spontaneous.  They often include discussions about the many symbolic, cultural, moral and ethical meanings and values of “recycling ”.  In particular awareness is raised with regard to the human consumption of Wild and “Accidental Meat” as opposed to the “factory farmed” varieties found in supermarkets and butcher’s shops.

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These sessions always include a practical workshop imparting some of the knowledge required for the preparation of dead animals for food, art and taxidermy.

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“I deal with all animals and participants in a sensitive, respectful, responsible and ‘matter of fact’ manner.  I feel that if one intends to be a carnivore , then one would benefit from knowing what the process involves – from beginning to end and in-between.”

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As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the ‘experiencer’, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something delicious, beautiful and compelling, often from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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Is it still fresh?

Is it still fresh?

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – Roadkill Recycling, Eating and Artwork…

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“When I see a tray of pre-packaged meat, I often wonder how the animal had been fed, what it ate, how it was looked after, respected, transported and finally slaughtered.  Did the animal suffer?  What has been pumped into it?  Is it full of antibiotics and growth hormones?  What is its carbon footprint?  Do I even want to put this meat in my body or offer it to my family?”

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Essential questions, especially if we are to try to live a ‘green’ and sustainable life now and in the future.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” -   J. Krishnamurti 

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Come and learn a Survival/ Essential Life Skill, and maybe even challenge your own perceptions and concepts of “weird”, “disgust”, and fears of the unknown and unusual.  

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Participate and ask questions, or be a spectator – everyone is welcome – carnivore and vegetarian alike.

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Prepare to feel closer to Nature and more in tune with what you eat.

These are not your average workshops!

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Please contact me to discuss your thoughts and requirements.

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Ali cooking
Cooking road kill on Come Dine With Me.
(a 2 minute clip)

Cultivating the Wild Woman Spirit – Can Hair Mirror the Soul?”

Some may think the title of this blog is a bit bonkers!  Maybe it is.

Is it as barmy as destroying ones almost waist-length, top condition, socially acceptable, naturally beautiful crowning glory?

Hhhmmmm??

Well… I did.

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A teeny bit of history and folk-lore first…

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When young children, especially girls, wake from an evening’s slumber with tangles and snarls in their hair, mothers with a tradition of  fairy folklore might whisper to their daughters that they had caught fairy locks or elf-locks.

Fairies, they say, tangled and knotted the hairs of the sleeping children as they played in and out of their hair at night.

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How sweet and magical is that?  I do love this bit of folk-lore.

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fairy-elses_thumb

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Wikipedia has a small reference to Fairy or Elf-locks…. another source says the first known usage of the term comes from 1592!

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Shakespeare references such elf-locks in Romeo and Juliet in Mercutio‘s speech of the many exploits of Queen Mab, where he seems to imply the locks are only unlucky if combed out.

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“She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes In shape no bigger than an agate stone…….

That plaits the manes of horses in the night And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,

Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.”

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Queen-Mab-Gremelkin

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In King Lear, when Edgar impersonates a madman, “he elfs all his hair in knots.” (Lear, ii. 3.)

What Edgar has done, simply put, is made a mess of his hair

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 In the Middle Ages horses found sweating in their stalls in the morning, with manes all knotted were said to have been “Hag Ridden”.  The tangles in their manes were known as “Witches’ knots”. 

There are stories that link this activity to the “Wild Hunt“.  The Wild Hunt legend first developed  around the 10th Century.  The leader of the hunt varies from source to source.  Some variations have it being led by the Germanic god Odin, while others  have it led by the goddess Diana, who is said to lead an all-female version.

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horsebraid.

Later folklore stated that witches would transform people into these animals and ride them.

Waking up with knots in your hair and a sore body were said to be sure signs of this

… and you were probably in BIG trouble with the church if discovered.

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An image of suspected witches being hanged in England, published in 1655

An image of suspected witches being hanged in England, published in 1655

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To read more about this in-depth check out this - “The spread of witchcraft folklore to and in America

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……….oOo……….

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On with the story… “The Cultivation of the Wild Woman Spirit – Can Hair Mirror the Soul?

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I birthed my new babies on August the 1st.

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Sometimes, do you need to destroy a thing in order for something new to rise out of the ashes?

I wanted a change because have changed.

I felt that my outward appearance needed to reflect that change every time I looked in the mirror.  Occasionally I regret it when they are totally bonkers with stray hairs flying out all over the place!  But I don’t want my socially ‘safe’ hair back, I am moving forward!

I chose to sport Elflocks because I wanted to foster that Wild Woman Energy that I felt had diminished a little since pregnancy, birth and ‘big change’.

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They are only 2 weeks old in these pics.  I love my new-borns, all 39 of them.

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When I was young, whenever I saw another woman with dreads I was in awe of her confidence.  I wanted some of that confidence and wildness to rub off on me!

As I got older, I became an adept at cultivating that adventurous, confident and free-spirited individual.

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I had experimented with dreads before, well, they were neglected extensioned clubbing-hair, lol, and they were super cool at the time!

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I didn’t realise it until I wanted ‘proper’ dreads that they were different kinds.

I am glad that I discovered the folklore of ELF-LOCKS, FAIRY-LOCKS and WITCHES KNOTS because DREADLOCKS didn’t quite sit right.  The reasons for having my hair like this bore no link to the usual stereotypes.

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The affinity I felt was with that ‘Wild Woman’ archetype‘, with that confidence and ancient feminine wisdom.  A truly Witchy Woman is complex.  You can not put labels on her.

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I chose to have Locs to mark this important Rite of Passage in my life.  Being pregnant and giving birth were amazing and incredibly empowering.  I loved it.  Becoming a first time mum in my forties simply knocked the stuffing right out of my body, lol, and my confidence.

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I am hoping my hair will be a cool ‘tool’ to help me on my path of deeper self-development and awareness.  I am hoping that they might outwardly reflect back to me a feeling, still in the process of exploring, that I have on the inside.

AND… Spiritual hippy dippy dribble aside…

I have had them put in cos they suit me and simply look AWESOME!!! lol.

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Thanks again to my dear friend and Dread Technician Hoby Lopan Mcflobo.

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hoby

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You have helped put the ‘Tribal’ back into ‘Tribal’, lol  Mmwwahhhhhh! xxxxx

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……….oOo……….

I get so many questions…

Is it safe to do what you do?

How do you know what to look for?

‘WHY’ do you do what you do?

There are others of course, so I have compiled a page dedicated to the most ‘frequently asked questions’ copied and pasted from various interviews and emails.  I hope you find them useful, informative, or just plain entertaining!

Just scroll down to find one that best fits your curiosity.

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(DISCLAIMER… Before I start I have to say that I hold NO responsibility for anyone getting sick eating roadkill.  I offer my experiences and knowledge freely, I do not make myself accountable for anyone else.  YOU make a choice, YOU take responsibility.  Thank you. )

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These questions were asked by writer and journalist Louise Tilloston, who was doing an article on ‘Extreme Frugality’.

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Q.1 – Roadkill.  How we do we know it is still fresh? 

Is it still fresh?

Is it still fresh?

Most people think of dirty pancake looking flat red mush  – what I call “Tarmac Jam” – when they think of roadkill and this is far from the truth.  But, how do you really know how fresh it is?

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  • If you saw the accident happen then you know it is definitely fresh.  If you didn’t, only pick up those that have ‘bounced’ from being hit cleanly once, preferably from the side of the road.

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  • Avoid animals that have been badly damaged or ruptured internally.  Check the animal carefully before stuffing it in the boot of the car (gloves are recommended and a plastic bag or tarp).

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  • Good basic indicators of optimal freshness are:
  1. Clear eyes & both eyes are still there.  Birds peck the eyes soon after death or first thing in the morning.
  2. Living & active fleas – fleas will only live on a living body.
  3. Fresh, red un-clotted blood – if any, but a bloody nose is common.
  4. Fur that doesn’t come loose when you pull it – alopecia is a sure sign of age or disease.
  5. Smell – if it smells revolting don’t pick it up.

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  • Rigor mortis sets in within a few hours, then the body will relax again maybe days later, so if it is stiff it could be still fresh, but keep in mind the previous tips when judging time of death.

The rate at which Rigor Mortis sets in will depend on several factors such as the animals physique, cause of death and the climate.  Different sources give different figures, but very broadly and in ‘average’ circumstances with roadkill it begins from 1/2 hr (bird) - 24 hrs (deer) it becomes complete in about 12 hours or more.  After about 72 hours, the body relaxes again, this time as a result of decomposition. This is known as resolution of rigor.  The stiffness in the muscle tissues begins to decrease owing to the enzymatic breakdown of collagen that hold muscle fibres together. This phenomenon is also referred to as Aging of meat. This aging effect produces meats that are more tender and palatable, hence the ‘hanging of game’!

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  • The skin will move much more freely across the muscles if the carcass is fresh.

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  • Listen to your nose… if it smells rotten, don’t take it.  If it smells ok on the outside, but when you open it up it smells very iffy don’t eat it.  Mild stomach gas is usually ok and a bit of poop may be normal too, so use your instincts on this until experience tells you otherwise.

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  • Cold climates are better for freshness; nature makes a great fridge sometimes.  Be careful in hot weather - bugs find the dead quickly.  Do do not pick anything up with maggots or eggs all over it.

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  •  Obviously, don’t pick up something that’s been run over a couple of times!!

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  • It is also essential to research the kinds of diseases certain wild animals can catch or carry and what signs to look for.

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  • Cooking the animal at boiling point thoroughly will kill practically all nasties!  That includes Toxoplasmosis,  Myxomatosis and even Rabies!!  But do your homework!

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As you can see, you need to know what you’re doing, but it’s not rocket science!!  If in doubt, ask someone else’s advice who knows what they are doing.

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Q.2 – Should you try it?

If you can stomach the thought of eating roadkill, and are confident you can pick out the animals safe for consumption, then I’d urge you to give it a try. If you’ve ever eaten pheasant, hare or rabbit in a restaurant and almost broken your teeth on the buckshot, you’d probably relish the chance to eat the gamey goodness without the fear of fillings afterwards!

Eating roadkill is definitely healthier than meat laden with antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants, as most supermarket meat is today. Road traffic casualties never knew what hit ‘em – if you pardon the pun!  They did not experience what it was like to be factory farmed, castrated, de-horned, or de-beaked without anaesthetics, they did not suffer the traumatic and miserable experience of being transported long distances in a crowded truck, and did not hear the screams and smell the fear of the animals ahead of them on the slaughter line.  Ethically, I know what I would rather eat!

Wild food foraging is about more to do with being in tune with nature and our bodies.  Some of its benefits are that it uses less packaging, less chemicals, less food miles and contains less pollution; it fosters biodiversity; our bodies ‘understand’ these natural foods, therefore cancer and other physical ailments are minimized because our immune systems are boosted naturally.

To view the article online click here.

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These Questions and Answers were taken from an interview with Dr. Daniel Allen

To see the blog in relation to this follow this link

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Q.3 -  What was it that made roadkill initially appealing as a source of food?

I remember long ago my father preparing game  in the kitchen, so I wasn’t fazed by seeing dead animals and was used to eating rabbits and pheasants from an early age. I was fascinated by the butchering process and tried to make things from the bit of fur, feet and feathers that were left over (my Dad found it amusing, but my Mum thought it was dirty, lol).

For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed collecting bits of nature and turning them into something else.  As a young adult and an artist who enjoys working with organic and animal materials, I would stop and inspect dead things at the side of the road (UK and abroad) to see if I could learn something about the animal and to see if I could salvage anything… often this is the closest you can get to truly wild animals.  The encounters were always a mix of sadness and fascination.  When an animal was only recently killed, I was curious about eating it, as it seemed a shame not to waste it, however, popular ‘roadkill’ taboo and worry about disease prevented me from doing so.

Eight years ago I saw the car driving in front of me hit a pheasant.  It bounced to the side of the road.  I stopped to pick it up.  “Why couldn’t I eat this?”, I thought.  It was exactly the same bird you would buy in a country butchers, but minus the lead shot! Butchers tend to ‘hang’ pheasants for about a week, so this was definitely fresher than those.  It was perfectly intact so I took it home, and prepared and ate it.  It was delicious and I derived a huge amount of pride and satisfaction from what I had done.  I was living in the country, but still felt like a ‘townie, and this simple act made me feel more in tune with where I was living.  I felt more akin with my environment.  And it was a free meal! Bonus!

Five years ago I began to learn and practice taxidermy using roadkill.  I was in contact with lots of dead animals and the same question kept popping up – why can’t I eat this?  In most cases the meat was inedible, or my lack of knowledge about the animal and any diseases it may carry prevented me from eating it.  Again, it seemed like such a waste!  This was an organic, free-range, pesticide-free, growth hormone-free and cruelty-free piece of meat – this is better than what you would buy in a supermarket!!  It was also something I hadn’t tried before and it had the element of the ‘exotic’.  I have always had an adventurous culinary curiosity and tried all sorts of street food in far-flung places around the world.

So I educated myself and began eating roadkill on a regular basis.

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Q.4 –  What is your opinion of pre-packaged meat?

When I see a tray of pre-packaged meat I often wonder how the animal had been fed, looked after, respected and finally slaughtered.  Did the animal suffer?  What has been pumped into it?  Is it full of antibiotics and growth hormones?  What food had it been eating?  Do I want this piece of meat in my body?

If I could afford it, I would only buy organic meat, always.  Ideally I would prefer to eat only animals that I had reared, slaughtered and prepared myself, and this is my long-term goal.  Unfortunately, I still have to rely on shops and supermarkets, and occasionally I buy the odd piece of meat that isn’t organic, especially if it looks very good and has been reduced heavily in price – better to eat it than see it go into the landfill.  It seems such a waste of a life.

I would not however buy ‘cheap’ anaemic looking pieces of flesh that have obviously been pumped full of water and synthetic additives to hide the fact that it was raised in battery conditions.

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Q.5 -  Have you ever found injured animals and had to dispatch them?

Occasionally I have had to do this with rabbits and pheasants at the side of the road, but luckily not very often.  I do not like to see animals suffer.  If I can not save its life, I will dispatch it and it always find it sad. I find it hypocritical if I am not able to do this, when I am more than willing to eat meat.  Your average carnivorous human would eat far less meat if they had to participate in the entire process from beginning to end, and that isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion, environmentally and ethically.

Just two days ago my partner found an injured owl.  It had a broken wing.  We called around and took it to a local vet.  They couldn’t save its wing, so had to put it down.  It was a huge shame and a beautiful bird.  We really wanted to save it.  We asked if we could have the bird for taxidermy reasons, but the vet said no.  The bird went to be incinerated.  What a waste!  We questioned if what we had done was the right thing.  We could have quickly and respectfully dispatched the bird ourselves had we known that the wing was not repairable and then we could have eaten it, and recycled the rest of it. Instead it was injected by humans with poisons in an artificially lit bright room.  It must have been afraid.

In most States in the USA, it is illegal to take roadkill, and often, by the time it is collected by the authorities, the meat is unfit for human consumption – What sort of ridiculous laws do we have in the West that allows good meat to go to waste, when there are so many undernourished people in our own countries, let alone in poorer countries?

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Q.6 -  What have you eaten, and is there any meat you wouldn’t eat?

I have eaten all meat that has been put before me that is fit for human consumption (Japan and the Far East in general is a great place to try out new and exotic foods and if the locals eat it, then I will.)  I will try most animals I have found dead if I am confident that it wouldn’t poison me.  (My only close shave was eating a dead penguin in Patagonia).  I travel extensively and to remote places – culinary experimentation is a passion of mine.  I have eaten many kinds of insects.  I like different textures and flavours.  I would not kill-to-eat someone’s domestic pet, but have probably been served it without my knowledge in various countries and accepted it graciously.  However, I would eat anything in a survival situation – including your grandma!  Lol.  I do not, and can not, eat Marmite though.

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Q.7 - Can you describe a normal days foraging?

Most finds are opportunistic, especially when they are animal.  I always have plastic bags, rubber gloves, a sharp knife or my ‘skinning kit’ in the back of the vehicle.  The places where certain fish, crustaceans, molluscs, plants or fungi are to be found, are often recommended by a friend or similar enthusiast. More often than not, these are closely guarded secrets!  On foraging trips such as these, I go deliberately and thoughtfully armed with what tools I need to collect and contain what I hope to find.  If  I were to plan a day’s hike that included opportunistic wild food foraging, I would first pick a scenic and interesting spot, armed with a plastic and paper bag (paper for fungi), a sharp knife, gloves, my mini pocket foraging books and a camera.  If my partner is with me and carrying a big backpack we will take the tent equipment, cooking apparatus and sleep and dine al-fresco.

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Q.8 -  Why not buy meat from a supermarket, or raise your own livestock?

As I mentioned before….

Unfortunately, at this time I cannot avoid having to shop at the supermarket and local farm shops and butchers, so do buy the occasional and preferably organic item from there.  I prefer not to encourage factory farming so I promote local farm shops and friends who grow their own to sell or barter.

Our long-term goal, and one we are actively researching, is to purchase a large plot of land, probably not in this country.  We plan to develop our own organic garden and vegetable patch and breed, raise, butcher and process our own livestock.  We plan to produce our own self sustainable energy, and be totally ‘off-grid’.  We hope to include like-minded people and those who want to learn all about self sustainability and living simply with nature.

On a political note:

Apart from this country’s weather, we don’t want to settle in this country as Central and Local Government clearly do not want to encourage this lifestyle, as they would not be able to take their 30-50% fee (in taxes) on our efforts – to fund their greedy, environmentally unfriendly and dangerous schemes of imperialism and manipulation and exploitation of us wage slaves and poorer countries.  (ooops, lol, bit of a rant there!!)   Most people who run our country, be they politicians or captains of industry are morally corrupt or just plain ignorant of their actions that are leading to the destruction of our planet and unnecessary suffering of millions of people around the world. I do not wish to support such people and so living off-grid in a country that will allow this lifestyle is our goal – and we wish to share this and support others around the world in similar ventures.

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Q.9 - What is your favourite roadkill recipe? 

I do not have a favourite as such; I love to experiment all the time.  If I were to choose a versatile dish that could accommodate any kind of meat no matter how small then it would have to be, ‘Chinese/ Japanese Dumplings’, ‘Terrine’ or a ‘Pate’.

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Q.10 - When did you first use roadkill in your art, and why?

I first used roadkill bird feathers to make a brooch when I was a child; I found them beautiful and wanted to recycle them. I felt an almost spiritual connection with that animal.  Later in life I discovered what shamanism and animism meant, so began to understand why I had always felt this way.

After a trip to Australia in 2001 I made a necklace from roadkill kangaroo claws.  Roadkill was all over the place in the outback – I had my partner at the time stop at the side of the road every time I saw a bleached white skeleton.  He thought I was mad sawing off the claws - he didn’t understand my art or curiosity with death.  I saw a rare resource and an opportunity to create something beautiful out of something that had passed away and was decomposing.  I see beauty in the whole cycle of life.  Death is so taboo in many societies and the fear of death makes it ugly.  I strongly disagree.  It can be a beautiful transformation, like the changing of the seasons.

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Q.11 - How does the public generally respond to your art?

Until recently I owned an art gallery in Harrogate that specialized in authentic Tribal artefacts and ethnographic curiosities.  The response from the public was mixed.  A lot of people didn’t understand it, but many had the nerve to come in and browse and ask questions.  They were snared by the stories of these beautiful and sometimes eerie looking objects and fetishes, which were anthropologically fascinating, tapping into the myth and magic of other cultures in remote far away places.  Kids especially loved it, and I went to schools with an armful of artefacts and taught a kind of ‘anthropology for kids’.  Afterwards, we would make masks and other tribal objects.

The gallery was a success, but unfortunately my relationship with my partner and co-owner was not and it closed down in 2007.

Whenever I have a studio to work from, I make sure that at times it is open to anyone curious enough to question what I do.  My last studio was in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.  Once every 2 months, me and the other artists in the building had an ‘Open Studio’ evening for members of the public.  My studio room (which I practically lived in) was quite different to everyone else’s and very weird to the uninitiated.  The walls were covered in old tribal masks and animal skins, pictures of female gladiators and goddesses, and scarified and tattooed faces.  I had a glass case full of interesting tribal jewelry from all over the world and an extensive specialized library.  There were taxidermy projects in progress on the tables and I was more than happy to explain and chat about anything they saw.

After meeting me and listening to my stories about how and why I think the way I do, they left my studio with a deeper respect for, and understanding of, the objects I transform

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These question & Answers were taken from an interview with http://www.takepart.com/article/2011/12/28/true-story-roadkill-cook

The True Story of the Roadkill Cook

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Yes, she eats animals killed by cars, but extreme forager Alison Brierley says her lifestyle is healthy—and good for the planet.
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Q.12 - TakePart: We have to know—how did you start eating roadkill?

Alison Brierley: I first ate a piece of roadkill when a car in front hit it about eight years ago on the way home from work. It just bounced off the car and it landed. I thought, “I’m going to check that.” When I went out, it was dead, luckily. I just thought, “I’m going to eat it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s exactly the same bird you’d get at the butcher’s minus all the lead shot.” So I took it home, prepared it, and it was fantastic. Then five years ago I started eating roadkill regularly and experimenting more and learning more of the taxidermy side of things for my artwork.

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Q.13 - TakePart: And what was that first animal?

Alison Brierley: A pheasant.

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Q.14 - TakePart: Who taught you to cook?

Alison Brierley: The cooking side of things I’ve just learned as I’ve gone along. As I’ve grown up I’ve really been interested in food and because I’m a meat eater I think it’s my responsibility to actually be acquainted with the animal I’m eating, which means butchering it and learning from scratch, instead of finding some sanitized package on the supermarket shelf already done for me.

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Q.15 - TakePart: Was there something that prompted you to start eating roadkill regularly?

Alison Brierley: Because I was using more animals in my artwork, I was handling a lot of meat, and what was going through my mind was, “Why can’t I eat this?” So when something was really fresh I actually decided to eat it. I learned about the animal first, like any diseases that it might carry. I got in touch with people who used to eat it themselves, asked them their opinions, and just gathered as much knowledge as I could before I actually started eating the roadkill. Before then, I just used to dispose of the carcasses to nature and keep the skins and feathers and whatever I was using [for my art], but now I try to go tip to tail. I try to eat and use everything.

Alison uses roadkill in her art too. Here, squirrel testicle earrings custom made for a bride.
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Q.16 - TakePart: What kind of roadkill have you eaten so far?

Alison Brierley: Staple roadkill in the U.K. are rabbits, pheasants, hares, deer, squirrels. Foxes, badgers, those kinds of things, I’ve processed and worked with, but their meat has never been in great enough condition to eat, which was a shame. Badgers especially can carry bovine TB, so you have to be very careful.  Occasionally, although illegal, farmers kill badgers with poisons and leave them at the side of the road to look like roadkill.

(Abroad is much trickier, due to different climates, but when it is cool and dry deer, kangaroo, rhea and penguin have been firm favourites!)

Q.17 - TakePart: You mention that you got advice from people who’ve eaten these animals themselves. Is there a community of people who eat roadkill?

Alison Brierley: There’s not quite a community. It’s still quite a quirky, eccentric thing to do because we’ve just been so socially conditioned that it’s dirty food. When people think of roadkill, they instantly think of this flat thing on the road that’s been run over 10 times by a tractor or something and that is totally inedible. Then people realize, “Hang on, what she’s preparing looks like it’s just gone to sleep—there’s hardly any injury on it whatsoever.” That’s the kind of roadkill that you look for, stuff that hasn’t been ruptured.

As far as friends go, we do have a community of people who love to go camping and be outdoors in nature, and that’s where you tend to skill share and find out a lot about country ways and cookery, like cooking whole pigs in earth ovens.

(Just recently I took part in a programme filmed by Beyond Productions’.  I gathered an elite group of foragers, hunters and craftsmen and women, all familiar with roadkill in one form or another.  The list of Roadkill Collaborators id here

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Q.17 - TakePart: I heard that you’re a nomad, is that true?

Alison Brierley: Me and my partner are both nomadic. We’ve been traveling for a long time. The last time I had a permanent home was five years ago. I owned an art gallery in Harrogate. It was very normal, apart from that it was all to do with tribal art. Me and my partner are both avid backpackers, so we do a lot of traveling into remote places like the Amazon and Papua New Guinea. We stay with tribes. I’ve got a keen interest in anthropology and I just love different cultures and how they cook and what they eat and their relationship to their food as well.

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Q.18 - TakePart: Is that how your interest in foraging, recycling and ecology grew?

Alison Brierley: Yeah. I think when you’re traveling and you don’t have a lot of possessions and you’re not surrounded by bills and house and possessions and clutter, you have more of a chance to interact with the environment. So we’ve decided to stay nomadic until we find a piece of land where we actually want to put down roots and build an eco-home and start a small community of our own, where like-minded people can come and skill share and learn off the land. That’s the plan—to be totally off-grid and eco.

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Q.19 - TakePart: Right now are you staying with friends or camping?

Alison Brierley: We have a motorhome, so we actually live in our motorhome and we drive it wherever we like. If we don’t like the view one morning, we can change it. It’s quite nice. When we visit friends, we take our house with us. We love it. It’s a great lifestyle. It suits us very, very much. Although, we will be renting in a beautiful little village up on the moors in Yorkshire to have a baby and nest-build for a little while.

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Q.20 - TakePart: What’s your favorite roadkill to cook?

Alison Brierley: I love eating hare. Hare is very special to me. Pheasant is a staple food. We eat lots of pheasants and lots of rabbits in springtime [laughing]. There are sort of seasons for different types of roadkill, and my fellow loves venison. We actually both love venison because you can get a huge amount of meat off one animal and it lasts for ages, but my favourite delicacy is the really weird stuff, like insects and the stuff you get in foreign countries that nobody else dares to try. I like to shock myself.

Q.21 - TakePart: What’s the most shocking insect you’ve eaten?

Alison Brierley: A live bamboo worm. It popped in my mouth and it was just like a big sack of milk, and that kind of freaked me out. But it didn’t taste bad at all.

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Q.22 - TakePart: What’s your least favorite food?

Alison Brierley: There’s only one thing I really dislike. I can eat anything apart from Marmite. I hate Marmite, and Vegemite as well. I keep trying it, thinking “This is the only thing I don’t like, so I’m going to keep trying it.” And I still really don’t like it.

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Last but not least…

Q.23 – What is the law on taking roadkill?

Finally, a few quick notes about the law…. but I am no expert, so check yourself if you really need to know specifics.  Generally, the UK is pretty good at allowing folk to dine from the road.

I would be wary of eating badger from the road at the moment…. farmers who view protected badgers as pests are putting poisoned animals by the roadside to make them ‘look’ like roadkill… so be warned.  I am not touching badgers for a while.

“The ownership of wild game is determined by where it dies and not who bred it or released it. For example, a pheasant killed on a public road cannot be claimed by anyone, nor can anyone be prosecuted for claiming it. The rumour about picking up a bird that has been killed by the car in front was an explanation as to how to kill a pheasant and not be charged with trespass in pursuit of game. As the bird died in a public place a charge of trespass cannot be brought to bare”.

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(The following is borrowed from a thread on a forum about the roadkill law in the UK which I think is really useful)

“Wild animals aren’t classified as ‘owned’ unless they’re specifically being farmed, in which case they need to be on land secured by fencing, so you’d not be likely to hit them.

However, you have a limited sense of ‘ownership’ to wild animals while they happen to be on your land – thus if you wander onto an estate and kill one, that’s theft/poaching, but if it leaves the estate of its own free will and wanders onto a road, then it becomes property of the owner of that land – i.e the roads department.

Legally, you could now be prosecuted for theft by the roads dept, but since they don’t generally mind folk tidying the roads for free, they probably never would.

The ‘don’t take it if you hit it’ rule comes about from the explicit offence of ‘driving deer’ with a motorised vehicle – i.e chasing/killing deer with a motor vehicle is automatically an offence unless express permission has been sought from the land owner.

So, legally you are likely to be ok to take anything you hit (apart from deer, or protected animals like badgers), if you seek permission from the roads department to take their property away.

However, the one major issue in all of this is that only people holding public liability insurance are allowed to deliberately kill animals on public highways, in case they get it wrong and the injured animal runs under /another/ car and injures the passengers.  Thus you’re definitely breaking the law if you find an injured deer in the middle of the road, and decide to dispatch it.  You /could/ drag it onto private land next to the road and dispatch it there, but then of course you’re killing an animal on private land without the owners consent which is poaching!

For the specifics on deer, see:

Deer Act 1991 (England & Wales)

Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 (Scotland)

Humane Dispatch -  Deer-Vehicle Collisions (UK Government Guidelines)

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TRIBAL ALI:

2 More added!! 12 in total now!

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As long as there are bits of placenta left, I will keep creating and adding to this blog! “My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta” – by Alison Brierley

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Click here to see the original blog…

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Originally posted on Alison Brierley:

 “PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

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Sheela-Na-GigDISCO BOOTIES FINISHED NOT LITPLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIESPlacenta Skin Baby Bootiessock monkey portraitSheela-Na-Gig painted in blood, Nomadic Village 2012Placenta Print BW Sheela-Na-Gig lino print  in blood/ black food colouring, Nomadic Village 2012 A Womb With a View see through placenta ket ring

umbilical clamp added to the harey purse placenta skin keyring and hares tail ROUND PATCH OF PLACENTA IN THE WINDOW WITH OLIVEPLACENTA PATCHY IN THE SKY Placenta cookery in Olive, Nomadic Village 2012

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 Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.

The placenta is an incredible, miraculous, life-giving organ!  It supplies your growing baby with a means of obtaining nutrients for development as well as a method of waste disposal.  While the unborn baby’s vital organs are developing, the placenta operates as its lungs, kidneys, digestive system, liver, and immune system until they fully develop.  The placenta does this so well that even when some of these organs fail to develop, the baby can survive until birth.  It is a thing of ‘Life’!

I remember hearing it for the first time along side my little one’s heartbeat!   The sound of the blood rushing through it was tremendous – it was all so overwhelming and awe-inspiring!  Truly magical!  I cried tears…

View original 1,876 more words

“My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta”

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FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION ‘SOCK MONKEY’

with Placenta Stuffing

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Placenta stuffing sock monkey

Made from recycled ‘Lost & Found’ materials and dried bits of placenta skin.

(Completed 2013)

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THE STORY OF THE COSMIC CONFIRMATION SOCKS!

The weekend we had conceived (and didn’t know it yet) we were walking in a park in London, it was a lovely sunny day!

We had been trying for a baby for a while but nothing had happened.  We were both in our forties and at this point had kinda given up, resigning ourselves to go down the IVF route later in the year, so we had just booked a trip to the United States of America for a last ‘mad-fling’ before possible parenthood!

USA Road Trip 2011

We planned to embark on a two month road trip (something we always love doing) which would include an adventure into the BLACK ROCK DESERT in Nevada, home of the iconic BURNING MAN festival.  I had wanted for a long time to participate in this artistic overload of the senses, and my mind swam with creative ideas!

So there we were, walking along a tree-lined path in a quiet public park in London making travel plans when I walked past a ‘rolled-up’ white and blue ‘thing’ on the path.  Curiosity made me go back and have a look.

It was a pair of tiny baby boys white socks with little blue cars on them.  They were very sweet.  I joked saying it must be an omen, lol.  Anyhow, I was compelled to keep them, my own little ‘Akua’ba’ fetish!

I used to have a couple of Asante Akua’ba dolls when I had the gallery and I am very familiar with why they were used.  There is scientific evidence to back up the validity of this practice that tricks a woman’s hormones into telling the body that it is willing and ready to conceive.  I was happy to experiment with this notion.  I will even go so far as to tell you that I’d bought a little baby’s snuggle-cloth-teddy from Asda a year previously to psychologically warm my being into ‘baby-mode’!

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asda always happy to help

I guess Asda just wasn’t cosmic enough, lol.

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A few weeks later I discovered that I was indeed pregnant and had conceived that weekend, probably earlier that very day!!  The little cute socks were indeed my Cosmic Confirmation Pregnancy Test!

Max has been wearing the socks, but I wanted to make something special when he out grew them.  I was inspired to make a Sock Monkey!  A totally ‘normal’ toy to make out of a pair of socks…

… albeit with a bit of left over dried placenta in the stuffing, lol.

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My “Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things From Placenta” was started at NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012, and continues to happen so long as there are bits of placenta left.

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 “PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

10 Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

… and counting!

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Sheela-Na-Gig DISCO BOOTIES FINISHED NOT LIT PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES Placenta Skin Baby Booties sock monkey portrait Sheela-Na-Gig painted in blood, Nomadic Village 2012 Placenta printed in blood, Nomadic Village 2012 Placenta Print BW Sheela-Na-Gig lino print  in blood/ black food colouring, Nomadic Village 2012 A Womb With a View

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 “Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it”

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If you want to read more about making beautiful things from placenta and the placenta rawhide please feel free to view my other blogs…

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To date I have done the following…

  1. PLACENTA PRINTING using the blood still inside the bag
  2. Painted SHEELA-NA-GIG images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. SHEELA-NA-GIG lino prints using placenta blood and black food colouring - also made ‘Thank You’ cards with the lino cut for my “Blessing Way Sisters”
  4. Made PLACENTA RAWHIDE from the Amniotic Sac
  5. Made the artistic piece “A WOMB WITH A VIEW”
  6. Cooked the rest – PLACENTA BOURGUIGNON!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism – “Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”
  8. Made PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES
  9. Made PLACENTA SKIN “FUNKY-BABY” DISCO BOOTIES
  10. SOCK MONKEY with dried placenta in the stuffing – “FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION FETISH”

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….. as long as there are bits left, I will keeping adding to this list!  ‘Follow’ my blog-site and watch this space!  I will keep updating as I go along!

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If you are interested in the story of the origins and magical uses of the African Dolls read the following page…

African Dolls

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………………..O………………..

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As with a lot of my work, I aspire to gently push the viewer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

Look out for blogs on my other ART projects - SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE, PLACENTA  ART & COOKERY, PLACENTA BOOTIES,  PLACENTA DISCO-BOOTIES, SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER MERKIN, ANTI  BADGER-CULL TRIP-TIC, ROADKILL SQUIRREL TESTICLE EARRINGS  , BURNING-MAN ASARO MUD-FAMILY PERFORMANCE ART &  JAPANESE WISHING TREE

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 “PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

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Sheela-Na-Gig DISCO BOOTIES FINISHED NOT LIT PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES Placenta Skin Baby Booties sock monkey portrait Sheela-Na-Gig painted in blood, Nomadic Village 2012 Placenta Print BW Sheela-Na-Gig lino print  in blood/ black food colouring, Nomadic Village 2012 A Womb With a View see through placenta ket ring

umbilical clamp added to the harey purse placenta skin keyring and hares tail ROUND PATCH OF PLACENTA IN THE WINDOW WITH OLIVEPLACENTA PATCHY IN THE SKY Placenta cookery in Olive, Nomadic Village 2012

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 Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.

The placenta is an incredible, miraculous, life-giving organ!  It supplies your growing baby with a means of obtaining nutrients for development as well as a method of waste disposal.  While the unborn baby’s vital organs are developing, the placenta operates as its lungs, kidneys, digestive system, liver, and immune system until they fully develop.  The placenta does this so well that even when some of these organs fail to develop, the baby can survive until birth.  It is a thing of ‘Life’!

I remember hearing it for the first time along side my little one’s heartbeat!   The sound of the blood rushing through it was tremendous – it was all so overwhelming and awe-inspiring!  Truly magical!  I cried tears of pure joy!

I felt that the entire process needed honouring, what a miracle we are!  I have ended up doing many wonderful things with my/our placenta! – BEFORE and AFTER I ate it!!  lol.

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BURNING MAN - NEVADA DESERT - USA

BLACK ROCK CITY 2011 – “RIGHTS OF PASSAGE”

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………………..oOo………………..

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Last year I participated in an Artists’ Residency program called the Nomadic Village UK 2012, sponsored by ISIS Arts.

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NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

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One of my artistic endeavours whilst there, was to defrost my frozen placenta (actually, it’s Max’s placenta) and begin creating as many beautiful things from it as possible…

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To date I have done the following…

  1. PLACENTA PRINTING using the blood still inside the bag
  2. Painted SHEELA-NA-GIG images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. SHEELA-NA-GIG lino prints using placenta blood and black food colouring - also made ‘Thank You’ cards with the lino cut for my “Blessing Way Sisters”
  4. Made PLACENTA RAWHIDE from the Amniotic Sac
  5. Made the artistic piece “A WOMB WITH A VIEW”
  6. Cooked the rest – PLACENTA BOURGUIGNON!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism – “Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”
  8. Made PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES
  9. Made PLACENTA SKIN “FUNKY-BABY” DISCO BOOTIES
  10. SOCK MONKEY with dried placenta in the stuffing – “FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION FETISH”
  11. I added the umbilical clamp which still has attached to it some of Max’s dried umbilical cord – I added this to the other charms/ tokens inside “THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE” – SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT
  12. PLACENTA SKIN KEYRING - with Hare’s Tail & Foot.  The Tail and Foot are from the same animal that made the “HAREY PURSE” above.

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….. as long as there are bits left, I will keeping adding to this list!  ‘Follow’ my blog-site and watch this space!  I will keep updating as I go along!

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I have enjoyed this process so much I am offering my services as a Professional Artist. 

Anyone wishing to preserve their placenta can contact me using the ‘Contact’ page or use this highlighted link.

Alison Brierley - Professional Artist 

What I would like to make for you are completely unique and personal ‘objet de’art’ using your placenta, what you want is your choice and I am open to suggestions. 

I will not however be producing items that are meant to be ingested. 

Prices are negotiable depending on what you want and to be discussed privately. )

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Now please enjoy the multiple emotions you will encounter by continuing to read…

“My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta”

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1.  PLACENTA PRINTING

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Without really doing much with the organ, I blotted it using the wallpaper liner spread before me.  I repeated the process, experimenting with positioning.  It was an amazing thing to play with.  The veins running through the skin made patterns like a road map, palm print and tree roots.  The flesh inside the bag was just like a sponge, in texture and function… it just kept on blotting!!

(Read more…)

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2.  SHEELA-NA-GIG

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The bowl within which the placenta had been defrosting was full of blood!  I experimented by painting with this blood and then mixing it with black food colouring – it applied like ink!  I repeatedly painted a stylized self-portrait based on a Sheela-Na-Gig – an ancient and archetypal pre-Christian image of fertility.  I had a picture of this on the wall near my birthing pool to reassure and assist me through the first and second stages of labour.  It reminded me that women have been doing this for millennia and it does stretch that much’!. 

(Read more…)

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Black/White  Earth  Air  Fire  Water

 Self portrait of the archetypal image of Sheela-Na-Gig in B/W, Earth, Air, Fire & Water.

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3.  LINO PRINTS

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I then made some block prints using a lino tile I had cut just days before the birth.  The image was that of the Sheela-Na-Gig image that helped me through labour.  I made pencil rubbings of the tile and created thank-you cards for my ‘Blessingway Sisters’ who had nurtured me beautifully.

 (Read more…)

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4. PLACENTA RAWHIDE

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I scraped the sac that Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty big and strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!

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I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum.

(Read more…)

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5. “A WOMB WITH A VIEW”

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Using whatever bits I could find in the van, I made a light box, backlit with the LED innards of my broken head torch, a  plastic version of a 12-week-old foetus that was given to me last year, tissue-paper and a placenta skin window.  I named it,  ”A Womb with a View”.

(Read more…)

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6. PLACENTA BOURGUIGNON

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We first tried a small piece lightly fried in olive oil just to see how it tasted before the addition of onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a dash of tomato paste, red wine and seasoning.  It was really tasty!

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This is the only disposable organ ever made.  From a cruelty-free, veggie perspective – it’s the only piece of meat (save eating a surgically chopped-off bit) whose owner didn’t have to die first for it to be eaten!

 (Read more…)

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7. CORDON BLEU OR CANNIBALISM?

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Hannibal Lecter

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Despite me growing it and giving birth to it, it belonged to Max.  This meant that eating it was actually a form of ‘cannibalism’!  This sparked a couple of interesting conversations on the subject.

 (Read more…)

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“BE CAREFUL!  I KNOW YOU TASTE DELICIOUS

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8. PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES

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I had originally wanted to stretch the skin over a drum hoop, but it wasn’t possible.  I had to re-think my idea.  I had started to crochet a pair of Baby Booties whilst at the Burning Man festival but totally fluffed up the pattern!  Instead I had the brain wave of making Placenta Skin Booties and hanging them in the car like fluffy dice, lol.  They turned out better than I had imagined… both pairs!

 (Read more…)

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9. PLACENTA SKIN “FUNKY-BABY” DISCO BOOTIES

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These booties are rather special as they were made from the parts of the amniotic sac that were almost transparent and incredibly thin.  When dry, they were more delicate than tissue paper - impossible to sew… so I backed them onto bits of Max’s now redundant, but still sentimental, swaddling cloth.   Although they looked great when finished, you couldn’t really tell that they were made from placenta skin, so I ‘funked’ them up a bit with flashing LED’s…

(Read more…)

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Click here to see these fabulous booties in action via Youtube!  Hilarious!!  I am so pleased with them…

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10. SOCK MONKEY with PLACENTA STUFFING

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Placenta stuffing sock monkey

FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION FETISH

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The weekend we actually had conceived Max (and didn’t know it yet) we were walking in a park in London, it was a lovely day!

I walked past a ‘rolled-up’ white and blue ‘thing’ on the path… curiosity made me go back and have a look. It was a pair of tiny baby boy socks.  I joked saying it must be an omen!  I was compelled to keep them. I discovered weeks later that I was indeed pregnant and had conceived that weekend, possibly that day!!

It truly was a FERTILITY COSMIC CONFIRMATION!  Literally, were on the verge of planning IVF treatment!

Max has been wearing the socks, but I wanted to make something special out of them when he out-grew them.  So I turned them into a ‘Sock Monkey’ and combined some of the scraps of placenta rawhide too small for anything else with the stuffing mix.

(Read more…)

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11. “THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE” – SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT

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Some of the umbilical cord is still attached to the little ‘clip’ they use prior to cutting the cord.  I kept it because I am hopelessly sentimental, as you may have already gathered, lol.

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Max's umbilical clamp with cord attched

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I added this to the rest of the charms/ tokens inside the ‘HAREY PURSE’.

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umbilical clamp added to the harey purse

Vulva and Vagina made from recycled materials and a roadkill female hare.

(Completed in 2009)

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(excerpt below taken from the blog)

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I was studying anthropology at the time, having been fascinated with tribal customs and fetishism for many years.  I was absorbed in the study of magical practices and, in particular, fetishes.

Fetishes – usually an object (anything from a small stone carving of an animal to a carved wooden penis) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner; broadly: a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence. The use of fetish objects is worldwide and from the beginning of recorded history – from Cave Man to modern Christian!

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H2840008 H2840035

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Over the following 16 months since her creation (it took a while for an old bird like me to conceive, lol) her slowly bulging vulva was gradually stuffed and filled with little sacred objects, each having special significance: a carved penis from a dear friend; a small piece of chalk flint from the phallus of The Cerne Abbas Giant; a fossil spiral, a ring of shell; a sculptured clay zygote from another dear friend; and a bird’s egg.

Eventually, I couldn’t fit anything else in her.

She dangled in the window of my motorhome as we drove along, bobbing away to music and the rhythm of the road surfaces, up-front and part of our lives – makes a change from fluffy dice! (read more…)

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12.  PLACENTA SKIN KEYRING

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I made a ‘Keyring’ with a piece of the skin that shows off the veins beautifully!  I completed a ‘set of three’ with the Hare’s tail and a foot form the same roadkill animal that I used to create the “HAREY PURSE” above.

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….. as long as there are bits left, I will keeping adding to this list!

‘Follow’ this blog or my home-page and watch this space!  lol.

Let’s see how many things I can make from a single placenta!! – …. suggestions???

I still plan to plant a bit under the ubiquitous tree of course, lol, I have most of the umbilical cord in the freezer - too late for stem cell harvesting unfortunately.

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As with a lot of my work, I aspire to gently push the viewer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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Look out for blogs on my other ART projects - SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE, PLACENTA  ART & COOKERY, PLACENTA BOOTIES,  PLACENTA DISCO-BOOTIES, SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER MERKIN, ANTI  BADGER-CULL TRIP-TIC, ROADKILL SQUIRREL TESTICLE EARRINGS  , BURNING-MAN ASARO MUD-FAMILY PERFORMANCE ART &  JAPANESE WISHING TREE

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I am in the process of cataloguing my work of many years – it will eventually make it to this site!

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“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER”

Shamanic Shakti Beaver & Pike Merkin

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SAY “NO” TO FEMALE CIRCUMCISION.

“KALI'S PANTS - AKA - NICE BEAVER” – SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER FUR MERKIN – VULVA ART

“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER” – SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER FUR MERKIN – VULVA ART

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“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER” - Made from recycled materials

(Completed 2009)

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“Kali’s Pants” started off as a joke!  At the time I had an opportunity to recycle a piece of an old vintage fur coat – made from real BEAVER!

I had the idea of making a furry ‘Merkin’!  Ohhh, the jokes were flowing, lol!

Even though there was humour running through my idea, it still had the usual shamanic undertones of a serious work of art and genuine attempt at self-realization/actualization.

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BEAVER SYMBOLISM

  • Clearer understanding of our subconscious thoughts and dreams
  • Ability to mould our thoughts more constructively to suit our needs
  • Determination to follow our dreams
  • Diligence to keep and reach our goals
  • Balance and flexibility concerning ourselves and our expectations
  • Take time for self, friends and family. The people in our lives are most precious

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My finished piece looked great and was named – “NICE BEAVER” - inspired by the classic quip from the legendary Leslie Nielsen from the movie  “The Naked Gun”.

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nice beaver, frank drebben

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[Jane Spencer climbs a ladder]

Lt Frank Drebin (played by Nielsen: Nice beaver!

Jane: [producing a stuffed beaver] Thank you. I just had it stuffed.

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(click on the picture to see the clip on youtube!)

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It was during a visit to a friend’s house that the furry ‘bikini-bottom’ performance art piece “Nice Beaver” was re-named “Kali’s Pants”. 

My friend and I often swap oddities and make things from dead bits, this occasion was no different.  The addition of a predatory Pike jaw bone, a handmade red velvet vulva that I quickly whipped up and a piece of Dragons Blood incense to intensify ‘potency’ made ‘Nice Beaver’ take on greater spiritual and emotional meaning!  It became a thing of power.  It made one wince.

It was re-named after the fearful and ferocious form of the Dark Mother Goddess -  Kali.

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The Dark Mother Goddess Kali

“Women do not only ‘give’ life, they ‘take’ it also”. 

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An obvious aspect of ‘Kali’s Pants’ – AKA - ‘Nice Beaver’ needed addressing – the fact that this vagina had TEETH!

It felt perfectly natural that this particular merkin should have them - and that I needed to take a little ‘time-out’ for some serious introspection!  lol.

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“The Vagina Dentata is an image or an attitude being reclaimed by women in the world today, that of the aggressive, powerful female who is a danger to any man who seeks to conquer or oppress. Women are reclaiming their metaphorical vagina teeth and are prepared to bite back!”

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Vaginal teeth motifs exist in myths, stories and jokes all over the world, showing up as a symbol of aggression and revenge in women.  The idea of a vagina with teeth dates as far back as Greek mythology and is rooted in the idea that the female body has hidden, dangerous secrets and that a man who has sex with a woman may risk castration.

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teeth-movie-poster2

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“KALI’S PANTS – AKA – NICE BEAVER” made her debut art performance at one of my regular festivals the same year, and the response was dramatic and dynamic!

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Since then, when the mood takes, she has empowered the occasional Women’s Gathering and Shakti Dance.

I have also decided to use her to ‘figure-head’ my protest against FEMALE CIRCUMCISION.

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"Kali's Pants" - aka - "Nice Beaver"

She currently resides on my sunscreen in the van, lol.

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As with much of my work, I aspire to gently push the experiencer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

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A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ‘VAGINA DENTATA’

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(taken from an excellent article with further links – read on…)

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‘Vagina Dentata’ is a widespread, archetypal fear to be found in mythology, symbolism and faiths worldwide. It is evocative of a subconscious belief that a woman may devour or consume her partner during sex, believed to be aroused by the mouth-symbolism of the vagina. Sigmund Freud, who coined the term, said, “Probably no male human being is spared the terrifying shock of threatened castration at the sight of the female genitals.”

Visions of a gaping, hungry vagina lined with rows of sharp teeth have been predominant throughout especially patriarchal societies, representing the fear the destructive man has of being conquered by what he seeks to oppress. 

“Metaphorically, every vagina has secret teeth, for the male exits as less than when he entered.” said Camille Paglia in “Sexual Personae”.

Risen with the belief they are superior to women, the weakness and impotence felt after the moment of ejaculation awakens unconscious fears of having been devoured. It is a belief in many cultures that the man expels his energy in ejaculation, while the woman draws it into herself, and adds it to her own energy.

  
In ancient civilisations, women do not only give life, they take it also. Dark Goddesses are the manifestation of the warm, nurturing womb, and the devouring gateway to the afterlife.  The Norse Goddess Hel ruled over Helheim, whose gateway was a vagina, or ‘yoni’ and the Christians, who adopted Hel’s name into ‘Hell’ for their afterworld, often depicted the gateway to Hell as lined with teeth, and looking very much like female genitalia. The Indus symbol for women was a comb, which was symbolic of the vagina dentata. The vagina having the same capacity to consume as the ocean – also a feminine symbol – and whose waves were said to be teeth. 

Vagina Dentatism and its prevalence in religions (readers advised to visit the below link to what Barbara Walker says about it, for a more complete overview of these) would seem to be mankind’s fear of being conquered, of being weakened and taken back to what he was as a mere foetus, germinating within the womb.

This fear continues today, now taking the form within art and pop culture. Picasso, among others, had depictions of the vagina dentata is his artworks, movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Candyman and even one episode of Batman, where Poison Ivy’s giant Venus fly trap engulfs her victims, contain vagina dentata imagery and it is a popular area of study for feminists, theologists, mythologists and historians.

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“THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE”

SHAMANIC FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT

THE 'HAREY' PURSE - SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT

THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE – SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT

“THE ‘HAREY’ PURSE”

SHAMANIC ROADKILL FERTILITY FETISH OBJECT.

Vulva and Vagina made from recycled materials and a roadkill female hare.

(Completed in 2009)

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This project began in 2009 during a weeklong ‘walk-about’ following the death of my father and shortly after the decision to start a family with my current partner.

I found the hare at the side of the road only 20 minutes into my lone travels around the North of England and Scotland.

She came with me the rest of the way, my travelling companion,  and bit-by-bit, she was eaten, shared, processed and learnt from, becoming part of the journey, and touching every person we came into contact with, in a deep and meaningful way.

I was studying anthropology at the time, having been fascinated with tribal customs and fetishism for many years.  I was absorbed in the study of magical practices and, in particular, fetishes.

Fetishes – usually an object (anything from a small stone carving of an animal to a carved wooden penis) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner; broadly: a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence. The use of fetish objects is worldwide and from the beginning of recorded history – from Cave Man to modern Christian!

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Over the following 16 months (it took a while for an old bird like me to conceive, lol) her bulging vulva was slowly stuffed and filled with little sacred objects, each having special significance: a carved penis from a dear friend; a small piece of chalk flint from the phallus of The Cerne Abbas Giant; a fossil spiral; a shell; a sculptured clay zygote from another dear friend; and a bird’s egg.  Eventually, I couldn’t fit anything else in her.  She dangled in the window of my motorhome as we drove along, bobbing away to music and the rhythm of the road surfaces, up-front and part of our lives – makes a change from fluffy dice!

A LITTLE BIT OF SYMBOLISM…

“Traditionally, the Easter Bunny, actually a Hare, was said to lay eggs at Easter. This concept is, of course, very strange to our factual minds, however, taken symbolically, the Egg not only represents Potential, but also the Cosmos and the very ground of Being from which we spring–no pun intended! One only need think about the Cosmic Egg and the Druid’s Egg to begin to get the full scope of this metaphor. No wonder then, that the Hare was at one time, considered both male and female. To produce the Cosmos, both must be present.

This union of masculine and feminine makes the Hare an excellent symbol for marriage.

Other associations with the Hare, that I won’t go into now, are witchcraft, or in ancient societies, with the seer or shaman–the Hare is also the trickster figure in many stories, who outsmarts Winter and Death…

Overall then, the Hare is a symbol of many things, all involving balance, Life, creative potency, regeneration, fertility and eternity. This symbolism manifests in associations with Springtime, the Dawn, the Moon and Sacred Fire, the Egg, the Circle and Infinity symbol, Marriage, Androgyny and Hermaphroditism, as well as Madness, Genius and Inspiration (which seem to go hand in hand).”

My ‘Harey Purse’ is a highly energised and striking object.  I feel an affinity with this ancient and symbolic animal.  She has inspired (and provoked) many since her creation, humbly as have I.

Thank you dear Hare for being a huge inspiration.  Thank you dear Dad for being an even bigger one.  Thank you my darling son and partner for being a source of constant joy and self realisation.

1 day old, his first bath after being born in the same pool.

One day old Max with Daddy, enjoying his first bath after being born in the same pool.

Dad, me and Mum in Amsterdam celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary

Dad, me and Mum in Amsterdam celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary

limetree hare

The carving on the ‘Hare Stone’ at Limetree Farm, Grewelthrope, Ripon.

As with a lot of my work, I aspire to gently push the viewer, including myself, to question preconceptions and socio-cultural taboos by creating something beautiful and compelling from something dead and/or socially repulsive.

Look out for blogs on my other ART projects - SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE, PLACENTA  ART & COOKERY, PLACENTA BOOTIES,  PLACENTA DISCO-BOOTIES, SHAMANIC SHAKTI BEAVER MERKIN, ANTI  BADGER-CULL TRIP-TIC, ROADKILL SQUIRREL TESTICLE EARRINGS  , BURNING-MAN ASARO MUD-FAMILY PERFORMANCE ART &  JAPANESE WISHING TREE

PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES

My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

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Placenta Skin Baby Booties

PLACENTA SKIN BOOTIES – Made from recycled mixed media, LED’s and the placenta I birthed last year, eventually defrosted and made into placenta rawhide.

The process was started at NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012, and completed upon request for the filming for Beyond Productions and the Discovery Channel – EXTREME WORLDS.

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 THE MAKING OF…

Placenta preparation with Maz, Nomadic Village 2012

Last year I participated in an Artists’ Residency program called the Nomadic Village 2012, brainchild of Captain Klaus Maehring of Austria, and sponsored by ISIS Arts.

One of my artistic endeavours whilst there, was to defrost my frozen placenta (actually, it’s Max’s placenta) and create as many beautiful things from it as possible – before I ate it!!  lol.  Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.  I have ended up doing many wonderful things with it!

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”PREOCCUPIED with PLACENTAS”

My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

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PLACENTA ART & COOKERY

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  A series of experiments completed during my artists’ residency at the NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

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To see these click the link below…

NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012 – Project 2 of 3 – PLACENTA PABULUM – ART, COOKERY & CANNIBALISM

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Before any plans could be made, as to what to make with my very special leather, I had to make it.  The entire experience was intense and incredibly interesting on so many different levels!

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Placenta Rawhide

Scraping the amniotic sac in prearation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

Scraping the amniotic sac in preparation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

I scraped the sac that Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty big and strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!

The skin was beautiful and heavily veined near the umbilical cord.  I could not separate it in one large unbroken piece so ended up with three medium-sized bits.  It was a shame, but it really was quite difficult to work with.  The skin wasn’t a single thickness either – it seemed to be made up of two layers.  It reminded me of the construction of ply wood.

I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum.

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ROUND PATCH OF PLACENTA IN THE WINDOW WITH OLIVE PLACENTA PATCHY IN THE SKYTRANSPARENT SKIN

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I decided to make a pair of baby booties!  (I did try to crochet a pair, honest, lol,  but the pattern flummoxed me!).

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Sewing the booties      fitting LED's      Placenta booties lit in the jar

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Youtube clip – PLACENTA ART – PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES – Sewing and Lighting – Part 1

Click Here

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In the end, I actually I had enough to make another pair… and I wrote about them in a separate blog…

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PLACENTA SKIN FLASHING  ‘FUNKY-BABY’ DISCO BOOTIES

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PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES (green and red)           PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES           PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES (red and red)

Click here to see a video clip of them in action – Hilarious!

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 Some of my other projects created at Nomadic Village 2012 – SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE   &   JAPANESE INSPIRED WISHING TREE

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PLACENTA SKIN FLASHING ‘FUNKY-BABY’ DISCO BOOTIES

My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

 DISCO BOOTIES FINISHED NOT LIT

PLACENTA SKIN BOOTIES – Made from recycled mixed media, a piece of Max’s swaddling cloth, flashing LED’s and the placenta I birthed last year, eventually defrosted and made into placenta rawhide.

These booties are rather special as they were made from the parts of the amniotic sac that were almost transparent and incredibly thin.  When dry, they were more delicate than tissue paper - impossible to sew… so I backed them onto bits of Max’s now redundant, but still sentimental, swaddling cloth.   Although they looked great when finished, you couldn’t really tell that they were made from placenta skin, so I funked them up a bit with flashing LED’s…

Click here to see these fabulous booties in action via Youtube!  Hilarious!!  I am so pleased with them…

 

PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES (green and red)           PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES           PLACENTA 'FUNKY-BABY' DISCO BOOTIES (red and red)

The process was started at NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012, and completed upon request for the filming for Beyond Productions and the Discovery Channel – EXTREME WORLDS.

 ………………..O………………..

 THE MAKING OF…

Placenta preparation with Maz, Nomadic Village 2012

Last year I participated in an Artists’ Residency program called the Nomadic Village 2012, brainchild of Captain Klaus Maehring of Austria, and sponsored by ISIS Arts.

One of my artistic endeavours whilst there, was to defrost my frozen placenta (actually, it’s Max’s placenta) and create as may beautiful things from it as possible – before I ate it!!  lol.  Even before I became pregnant, I knew that I would do something special with it.  I have ended up doing many wonderful things with it!

 

I did the following things on a large roll of wallpaper liner…

  1. Placenta Printing
  2. Painted Sheela-Na-Gig images with placenta blood and black food colouring
  3. Sheela-Na-Gig Lino Prints
  4. Cured the Amniotic Sac that contained Max and stretched the skin
  5. Made the artistic piece, “A Womb With A View”
  6. Cooked the rest and shared the meal with my partner and four adventurous others!
  7. Had a lively discussion about eating placenta and cannibalism
  8. Retained the rest of the skin to make other things at a later date

 

“Be careful!  I know you taste delicious!”

PLACENTA ART & COOKERY

       

  A series of experiments completed during my artists’ residency at the NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012

To see these click the link below…

NOMADIC VILLAGE 2012 – Project 2 of 3 – PLACENTA PABULUM – ART, COOKERY & CANNIBALISM

 ………………..O………………..

 

Before any plans could be made, as to what to make with my very special leather, I had to make it.  The entire experience was intense and incredibly interesting on so many different levels!

 

Placenta Rawhide

Scraping the amniotic sac in prearation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

Scraping the amniotic sac in preparation to make rawhide, Nomadic Village 2012

I scraped the sac that Max grew in.  I had a couple of shamanic drum hoops with me.  I figured that a bag containing a baby for nine months, kicking away had to be pretty big and strong!  I just hoped it could be stretched to cover a hoop!

The skin was beautiful and heavily veined near the umbilical cord.  I could not separate it in one large unbroken piece so ended up with three medium-sized bits.  It was a shame, but it really was quite difficult to work with.  The skin wasn’t a single thickness either – it seemed to be made up of two layers.  It reminded me of the construction of ply wood.

I separated the skin further into three smaller pieces of practically transparent skin, like cling-film.  I cured all the bits and turned them into rawhide – because it was in pieces I had to rethink my idea of a placenta skin drum.

 

ROUND PATCH OF PLACENTA IN THE WINDOW WITH OLIVE PLACENTA PATCHY IN THE SKYTRANSPARENT SKIN

 

 

 

 

I decided to make a pair of baby booties!  (I did try to crotchet a pair, honest, lol, but the pattern flummoxed me!).

 ………………..O………………..

I made another pair, much more translucent and larger then the ‘Funky Disco’ ones …  I have written about them in a separate blog…

PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES!

 

Placenta Skin Baby Booties

PLACENTA ART – PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES – My Experimental Adventures Making Beautiful Things from Placenta

Youtube clip – PLACENTA ART – PLACENTA SKIN BABY BOOTIES – Sewing and Lighting – Part 1

 Click Here 

 …………………. O ………………..

 Some of my other projects created at Nomadic Village 2012 – SHAMANIC ROADKILL CAPE   &   JAPANESE INSPIRED WISHING TREE

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