Born 1990,Sligo,Ireland

Arlene McPadden is a practicing artist who deals primarily with taxidermy. Arlene graduated with a first class Honours Degree, BA (hons) in Fine Art, specialising in Sculpture, from The Centre for Creative Arts and Media, Galway in 2013. She has exhibited throughout Ireland in both group and solo shows and her work has appeared in venues such as Luan Gallery, Athlone, The Royal Ulster Academy, (Ulster Museum), Belfast, 126 Gallery, Galway and The RDS Student Art Awards and Exhibition, RDS, Dublin where she won The Model Residency Award.
``Hybridization is the ways in which forms become separated from existing practises and recombine with new forms in new practises`` (Rowe and Schelling 1991:231).
My work can be seen as a metaphor for the discussion of integration and multiculturalism as a demographic model in western society. I am using classification as a form of process within the work, combining materials that highlight hybridization.
Although the work is characterised by the use of animal material, the animals rarely speak for themselves. I combine found and gathered objects with the animals in order to talk about topics within the social and political sphere. In order to do this, I often anthropomorphize the animals to metaphorically talk about the intricacies within humanity. Hybrid forms in flying positions demonstrate the coming together of different races as a result of emigration while cabinet works with classified elements talk about the battle between evolution and religion. Although playful and often humorous, the work shows dark undertones and in a constantly twisting play between fantasy and reality I try to emphasise the borderline between life and death. The animals are re-born to remind people of the life they lived and also to remind people of the similarities between their lives and ours. There are constant battles within the animal kingdom just as there is within our world and so, I try to use animals that are surrounded by history and symbolism within my work. The contrast between beauty, luxury and greed coupled with the mystery of death, timelessly preserved, transports one into a transient state of mind, in which anything is possible. My work aims to bring people closer to an honest perception of reality pictured through a lens of critical fantasy.


The word “taxidermy” is derived from two ancient Greek words; taxis, meaning movement; and derma, meaning skin. Taxidermy is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals. “Taxidermy” is a general term describing the many methods of reproducing a life-like three-dimensional representation of an animal for permanent display. In some cases, the actual skin (including the fur, feathers or scales) of the specimen is preserved and mounted over an artificial armature. In other cases, the specimen is reproduced completely with man-made materials.

Photography has a big part to play in my work. I use it as a means of documentation and recording process. Sometimes it’s just a stepping stone to another piece of work, but often a separate entity all together. I enjoy working with found objects and often, I set up particular scenarios between the animal and the object. Usually, I don’t use animals that have been taxidermied. Instead I take an animal from my freezer, wait for it to thaw and work with its floppy form.

For me, drawing is so much more than putting a pencil to paper. I enjoy making what I call 3-dimensional drawings. As part of my thought process I combine materials, often animal related materials with found objects, to make particles of work. Sometimes these particles can be turned into larger pieces but are often left as they are. Drawing has always helped me with the realisation of a piece.