10 Jun to 27 Aug 2017

Everglades Historic House & Gardens will provoke and challenge environmental change by opening its closet to a secret stash of exotic animals in June.

The Wunderkammer exhibition of ethically-sourced taxidermied animals by artist Rod McRae will be displayed at the Leura landmark from June 10th to 27 August, 11am to 3pm daily.

Wunderkammer, which means ``closet of secrets’’, has been on the regional art gallery circuit since 2013 and consists of 15 portals into what was, what is and what could be.

Each work explores an animal ``issue’’ using real preserved animal bodies (taxidermy) to tell their stories including trophy hunting, displacement, poisoning.

A polar bear teeters on a refrigerator, a zebra is in a shipping crate on which is written a ``shopping list’’ of animals available for hunt, there are penguin skeletons alongside shards of plastic and a list of harmful chemicals, a faceless baboon holding a mirror towards its head and the king of the jungle playing on a bed – with a chain around its neck.

However, no animal was harmed to make the artwork. The skins were the result of death by natural causes, medical euthanasia, hunting, culling and food production and had been traded on, sometimes multiple times before they became part of Wunderkammer. The skin of the baboon is a by-product of trophy taking.

McRae aimed to provoke thought, discussion and, ultimately, change through the sometimes hideous displays.

``I would like to believe that art can make a difference,’’ he said.

``Using the real thing creates art that is both authentic and empathetic. I argue that sculptures of animals rendered in resin, plastic, stone, wood or metal cannot speak as directly to us as the real animal.

``Each work touches on a different aspect of the human-animal relationship including biodiversity, pollution, climate change, conservation and stewardship. Each work asks us to examine our responsibilities as fellow travellers on this planet.’’

Everglades manager Scott Pollock said: ``This exhibition is an opportunity to meet these exotic creatures up close in ways we could never do while they are alive.

To compliment the exhibition, the Friends of Everglades (fundraising committee) will host a Faux Fur Luncheon to celebrate their winter exhibition. This will be held on Saturday, June 24.

Organised and served by The Friends of Everglades volunteer committee, the three-course Faux Fur Luncheon aims to highlight ethical alternatives to animal fur clothing in a fun way.

Everglades manager Scott Pollock said: ``The ethos of the meal is sustainability and ensuring that any animal or fish used enjoyed the best possible living conditions.’’

``Fur has been part of human clothing throughout our history but unlike our ancestors, we have alternatives today and no longer need to wear fur. Given the unethical practices often used to source fur and the population explosion that places an unsustainable demand on fur, most people today don’t actually want to wear new fur clothing.”

``But that hasn’t stopped our love of fur.’’

The Everglades Faux Fur Luncheon encourages fashionistas to celebrate advances in technology and social conscience by donning fake fur designs of their favourite wildlife.

The Faux Fur Luncheon will be held at 12.30pm on Saturday, June 24. Tickets: $70, $60 National Trust members includes floor talk by Rod McRae. Bookings: (02) 4784 1974 or email .

Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free.

Contact: : (02) 4784 1938 or email .

The works included in Wunderkammer are managed by the Western Plains Cultural Centre, a facility of Dubbo Regional Council.

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Blue Mountains Association of Cultural Heritage Organisations
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