we are the same.
deceased & taxidermied – 2012
There is something fantastic & pure about the white peacock.
This is by far the most popular, and perhaps the most beautiful, of all the coloured mutations. This peacock has the same enormous tail feathers as its coloured brothers, but without an ounce of color: the whole bird is pure white.
I admit that before doing research I’d thought these were albinos, like most people do. In fact, they have something called leucism. Leucism is when the cells lack the ability to make any pigment whatsoever. A further difference between albinism and leucism is in eye colour. Due to the lack of melanin production in both the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) and iris, albinos typically have red eyes due to the underlying blood vessels showing through. In contrast, most leucistic animals have normally coloured eyes. Imagine my aesthetic delight upon seeing Amadeus’ dark brown eyes bathing in unreal blue pools of pigmentation in the surrounding skin.
It was midday with clear blue skies – I peered up from where I sat on the train reading War of the Worlds – when I first spied Amadeus perched within his airy aviary. I twisted my gaze towards him as we slid past taking a mental-snapshot of the details of his picturesque country home & willing the train to rattle me a little faster towards an internet connection (or for my service provider to build some more towers). My haste was unnecessary as despite finding his home via GoogleMaps & trusting the post with my obscure letter –outlining my wishes to his current caretakers & providing them with a vast array of contact details- it would be over a year before I would set eyes on this surreal creature again.
I had been volunteering for South Pacific Taxidermy for a time to learn the skills of this artistic & scientific trade & had not long been receiving paid work within the studio when my co-worker asked if I had ever heard back about the Leucistic Peafowl.
No – & my alternate option of turning up on their doorstep seemed a little intrusive.
Little did I know that the very next week I would receive a strange call in the dark to inform me that in the cold morning the peacock had passed – from old age. Plied with cold-packs, gloves & plastic bags, I was escorted by my partner to collect a dead bird from a strangers farm late at night.
A true lover of birds, the man whom had called me had many breeds & a beautiful home for both himself & the animals. I insisted on making a payment & then with a peacock in the backseat we rolled home to bed – the bird corpse rested in the otherwise unused bath away from the curiosity of a cat.
The proceeding day within the South Pacific Taxidermy studio I began what became 3 days of patient work on preparing to ‘arrange the skin’ of what was soon to be named Amadeus. I have included some of my working images of this process alongside this script.
There is a waiting period when properly mounting animals & it was during this time when I was walking to my other job (as an au pair for deaf & autistic children) that I came across what would become the complimenting piece of a base for Amadeus. The authority responsible for maintaining the power poles of the area had done their job perhaps a little late & a little lackadaisical. They had trimmed a troublesome vine from the pole, cutting it from the roots up to one metre from the ground, the problem is that the vine was well established & its now sun-bleached deadened entanglement reached another two metres above the cutting-off point, encircling the pole (as pictured). I craved that accidental cylinder of pale vine & the next day, upon procuring secateurs my partner & I liberated it – under strange glares from the neighborhood watch – & I awkwardly carried it home.
Whilst Amadeus was drying, being airbrushed & groomed I transported the vines out of Melbourne to begin constructing the base in Creswick where my parents kindly gave me not only the space in their large yet overcrowded shed, but also the extra materials needed & their time/input in constructing a base for the finished product – having themselves not ever laid-eyes on the bird.
My father & I hunted down a large native stump in Smythsdale within the confines of my grandparent’s property. We then had all the makings for the final piece (pictured at the conclusion),
Amadeus was completed by the holiday season of 2012 & was installed as part of a seasonal display within Vanilah – a prominent salon located in Ballarat.
Prominent in many cultures, the peacock has been used in numerous iconic representations, including being designated the national bird of India in 1963. The peacock, known as Mayura in Sanskrit, has enjoyed a fabled place in India since and is frequently depicted in temple art, mythology, poetry, folk-music and traditions. In Buddhist philosophy, the peacock represents wisdom. Peacock feathers are used in many rituals and ornamentation. Peacock motifs are widespread in Indian temple architecture, old coinage, textiles and continue to be used in many modern items of art and utility. In Greek mythology the origin of the peacocks plumage is explained in the tale of Hera and Argus.The main figure of the Kurdish religion Yezidism, Melek Taus, is most commonly depicted as a peacock Peacock motifs are widely used even today such as in logo of the US NBC television network and the Sri Lankan Airlines..
These birds were often kept in menageries and as ornaments in large gardens and estates. A reference in the Bible mentions a peacock owned by King Solomon. In medieval times, knights in Europe took a “Vow of the Peacock” and decorated their helmets with its plumes. Feathers were buried with Viking warriors and the flesh of the bird was said to cure snake venom and many other maladies.
I would love to have the white peacock I have always wanted in my home, but I am young & setting up my life, I don’t have the environment to keep such things at the moment. Thus, Amadeus is FOR SALE & possible rent by negotiation, the current base can be deconstructed for ease of transport, but upon purchase would be made permanent in final destination (unless otherwise advised).
Please contact Louise with queries regarding sale, rent or other.
Louise for SAME
South Pacific Taxidermy
Mohanad El Ali
Lee & Sandra Wilson
& the Ballan couple whom so happily homed the peafowl during his life.