"Taxidermy and Tea" Bethnal Green
If some unfortunate person wired themselves up to my brain and intrepidly explored it's recesses (a bit like a Bear Grylls version of 'The Cell') they would encounter some very particular themes. I'm fairly convinced somebody did indeed do this and was inspired to create the following: "Taxidermy and Tea"!! And as well as doing exactly what it says on the tin and providing tea and taxidermy, the event also included some of my other favourite things, such as 'tease in the form of Burlesque act Coco Deville and an Alice In Wonderland/Heston Blumenthal food mash-up courtesy of Animal Vegetable Mineral. I honestly don't know where to start...
My friend and I arrived fairly early which gave us carte blanche to dig into the amazing Mad Hatter's style spread before anyone else had a chance! The first thing we did was try the inhalable cakes which were vanilla or toffee apple flavour helium gas in colourful balloons - of course they came with the added surprise of making us sound like chipmunks which we hadn't anticipated, and made me laugh and snort the lovely 'Teapigs' tea out of my nose when Debbie started talking like Alvin.
Also available were scones, jammy dodgers, iced mushrooms that tasted like crispy cinnamon biscuits and marzipan bumblebees. I dug in to some of the savoury sandwiches first: perfect ham and mustard, buttery cheese and cucumber and spicy egg mayonnaise, before devouring the sweets.
There was a chocolate tower which needed to be smashed with a mallet, candy floss trees containing the best candy-floss I've EVER tasted and also little chocolate and beetroot mousses with chocolate 'soil' crumbs and mint leaves that made them look like little potted plants. And even though the food did taste amazing, half the fun came from putting things in your mouth that you weren't quite sure about...were the mini ice cream cones going to be sweet or savoury? Did the marzipan bees contain real honey..or real bee?! It was all so Willy Wonka - it was amazing!
After we'd filled our bellies we waddled off like Augustus Gloop and took a seat in front of the shabby heart-shaped stage to await the amazing Amanda...
What then ensued was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative session with Amanda as she 'taxidermied' a rabbit before our very eyes! The process was done in two stages with the skinning occuring for the first hour. It was very interactive, and the audience were able to shout out questions to Amanda and join in the discussion as she worked. Even better, we had a break in the middle which allowed us to re-fill on tea (or at the bar if we preferred) and shove more sweets into our eager mouths. (For an audience like us, it wasn't as if the taxidermy put us off the ham sandwiches - if anything, I really wanted a nice rabbit stew...)
Then, as we digested a bit we were regaled by the fantastic burlesque performer Coco Deville and her Alice In Wonderland inspired act. See here for a snippet:
Part two of T&T consisted of the 'stuffing' part of the taxidermy, again with step-by-step instructions and Amanda's fantastic stories and patter with the audience. The only problem is she was so good she made it look too easy and I have a feeling lots of people will try their hand at this in their kitchens at home, much to their 'other halfs' horror!
After the session we had a lovely chat with Amanda who I'd like to work with in future on various projects, and I couldn't help but wonder if taxidermy may overcome things such as knitting and crochet as a 'group' activity. Why go to Knat and Natter or Stitch and Bitch when you could take part in a Gut and Gossip session, or go to Stuff and Nonsense?! There's definitely a market for it ;) And living in a London flat where pets aren't allowed, I certainly think I've found a loophole...
All in all, the perfect way for me to spend a Saturday - it had absolutely everything...nearly... The only thing it was missing was Bear Grylls :(
Until next time...xox
http://www.avmcuriosities.com/ (Animal Vegetable Mineral)
http://www.therobincollective.co.uk/ (Experimental Pop-Up Events)