Good Reading : June 2010
52 goodreading ı JUNE 2010 BOOKBITE 3 in the basic shapes of the animals have been used to drape the skin over. Before that happens, the skin is cured or tanned -- for birds that might take a few hours, for larger creatures a couple of days. Gary Pegg has dozens of different foam forms of the most common animals he deals with -- grey kangaroos, red kangaroos, rock wallabies, feral goats, feral pigs, red deer, foxes. Many, in small, medium or large, are available for sale to other taxidermists (as are glass eyes for various animals -- sitting like prize marbles in drawers in his office).There's a foam fruit bat hanging, a standing brushtail possum, a platypus swimming. Poses can be altered by sawing through the foam, rearranging the body parts, filling or smoothing over gaps and gluing it all back together. Most birds don't have a standard for m -- Gary Pegg just sculpts each from a block of foam. And for the more unusual animals, he, or one of the two people who work with him, may need to use artists' plasticine over the skeleton to sculpt the body shape and then make a one-off fibreglass mould from which a for m is taken. That was the case with a commission from the Hong Kong Jockey Club -- River Verdon, a champion racehorse that had won the Hong Kong Cup twice, the Triple Crown twice, and had died of old age at a retirement park at Sunbury, near Melbour ne airport. It was a very large horse, and no prefabricated body at South Pacific Taxider my came close to it. 'Being a racehorse it was very particular in structure,' says Gary Pegg. 'When he died, he was out of his racing prime. Like a lot of us, he'd put on weight and looked nothing like he did in his youth, nice and slick and racy looking. I said to the owner, "You've got to understand he's 19 years old, we can't make the excess skin disappear."' He was told to do River Verdon, now at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, as he was 'when he passed away. His condition was good, it was just he was a bit fat and happy.' Gary Pegg made a dead horse for the most recent Ned Kelly movie. 'You put so much detail into it and it's on the screen for a second -- it was a half-dark, stor my night and you see a dead horse lying on the ground and that's it.You think "That's movies."' With animal welfare being high priority and computer animation being highly advanced, he gets a fair bit of work with commercials. 'If they can't use a trained animal in a particular shot, they'll see if we've got a mounted one, and then do adjustments on the computer.' Other specimens of Gary Pegg's mainly Australian natives, are in museums in Indonesia, China and Taiwan. One of the most unusual animals he has had to deal with was an echidna. 'What's fascinating is getting up close and having contact with the specimens to see their various features -- things you wouldn't notice if you were looking at an animal in a pen. The claws on the echidna for digging ter mites out of the wood. And its quills, which float on the body with a membrane between, almost like a suit of ar mour.' Injuries ‘When he died, he was out of his racing prime. Like a lot of us, he’d put on weight and looked nothing like he did in his youth, nice and slick and racy looking.