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Road kill is still life

At Art Stage Singapore, Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects from Melbourne was exhibiting the works of Marian Drew, Australia's most significant and influential photo-media artist. The artist uses dead birds, all road kill, to create a mesmerising still life, an effect that is at once elegant and disturbing. Excerpts from an interview:

When did you start picking up dead birds?

In 2003, in my neighbourhood in Brisbane, right in the middle of the city where I live. When I would leave for work in the morning, I was amazed at how many dead birds there were on the road, all road kill.

How do you develop your works?

When you pick up road kill, you only have three to four hours. I use a torch light and I shoot my photographs on 6 x 7 format film after setting up my birds against appropriate backdrops.

Your works are an ecological outcry almost. Australia has recently seen a devastating heat wave, clearly the result of global warming.

There is certainly an ecological overlap to all my works. I am also working on a project with scientists and artists to draw attention to climate change for a national park. Aside from birds, I've also shot other road kill, including dead kangaroos, dead fruit bats and dead wombats.

What are the difficulties in creating your work, aside from the obvious health hazards of bringing a dead animal back to your studio?

My children initially would get very embarrassed. I'd pick them and their classmates up from school and if I saw road kill, I would get out of my car and bring them back with me. But now that my kids are older, they see the larger point.

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