Vegetarian and artist Alice Fox of StarFoxSkulls in Gloucester England celebrates animals’ spirits through her craft, rendering each death a beautiful new beginning.
bunnyhawk >> Tell us about yourself?
alice >> Hi Bunnyhawk. I’m twenty six, and I live in Gloucester (England) with my four year old son and my eight month daughter. I like creating, reading, gaming and all the joys of motherhood. Most of the rooms in my house are painted bright orange with statues of elephants or Ganesh dotted about, and crystals everywhere. And skulls… lots and lots of skulls! My dream is to have a contented family, where we can all do the things we love.
bunnyhawk >> What urged you to make death beautiful?
alice >> I think many people really struggle with the concept of death – we try to avoid it – we don’t like to talk about it. I find this particularly interesting as a vegetarian. Killing animals just to eat them is OK(?), but learning about the manner of their death, seeing the remaining bones – transformed into art or not – really freak some people out. Beauty can come from death… the cycle of a tree is an excellent example of this.
bunnyhawk >> Where does the name StarFoxSkulls come from?
alice >> I just wanted the name to be unique and stand out. My last name is Fox, Starfox is an old game I used to play, and the Facebook name I’ve usually used – it just made sense to me!
bunnyhawk >> So your style! – tempted to describe as Betsy Johnson meets Child of Wild… what inspires you?
alice >> Thank you! I’m inspired by each individual skull. Some of them I can pick up and think YES you need to be this color, and accentuate this area. Others I leave out to look at until I’m sure of what they want to be. Sometimes when I’ve had a delivery of skulls I’ll spend several days playing around and focusing on necklaces or headpieces. Each skull I find beautiful in its own right, whether it be perfect or damaged.
bunnyhawk >> What’s entailed in your research, sourcing of materials, and creative process as a whole?
alice >> I always ask my suppliers how the animal(s) died. Aside from the roe deer which are vintage german collections, the majority of my skulls are found in nature or died of natural causes. Some of the bird wings come from birds regulated by pest control, all sources are in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
It is always sad that an animal dies, be it from nature’s inevitability or from man, but I hope to prolong its ‘life’ in something that can be appreciated and enjoyed, while respecting that it once belonged to a living being. Many of the skulls arrive in a ‘ready to go’ condition, but others need a bit of cleaning. If there is still a bit of remaining tissue, I will soak the skull in hot water with biological washing powder, then when all the bits come away a good scrub and a soak in a peroxide solution bath to whiten and clean. Once thoroughly dried out, I can begin to get creative with them.
bunnyhawk >> How about your inspiration for the winged skull pieces?
alice >> I think as artists we have to create what we love first, with no one else in mind. I’ve always loved feathers and wings – they’re so incredibly formed – and I also like to play with opposing elements. I felt like some of my skulls needed that extra element, something to define them, make them pop. I’ve had mixed feedback about the winged pieces – not everyone likes them, but some really do – I sold a Jay winged sheep skull before it was even finished! My bird wing headpieces are very popular, too, and I’ve been lucky enough to create many custom pieces. Beautiful, unique and easy to wear, many say that they like the Valkyrie look of them.
bunnyhawk >> What was your first experience working with a skull?
alice >> The first skull I ever painted was a really old damaged and weather beaten sheep skull. The horns were pretty rough – he was a bit covered in moss, but after a good wash I decided he needed to look really special. And how long had it been lying hidden away with nature working on it, waiting to be found?! After gluing the horns back on, I painted them gold and the head bright metallic blue, finishing him off with silver teeth and a mandala design on the forehead. It’s not a good enough quality skull to sell – he’ll be part of my personal taxidermy collection.
bunnyhawk >> A favorite moment from nature?
When I lived in Devon as a child, my mother always took me to woods and walking up hills. I think this instilled in me a love of the outdoors, and a respect for nature and all it can offer and bring us. Whether it be the incredible formation of an amethyst crystal, or the stunning visual display we get from trees and flowers throughout the year, there is always something to marvel at and respect. Whenever possible, I like to escape to the woods. I think it’s important to check back in with the real world, not our generated world of rush and noise. It’s something that I’d like my children to learn – to appreciate the often overlooked.
bunnyhawk >> What are you working on, excited about, at the moment?
I’m always keeping the winged headpieces in stock, and bird skull necklaces. I just finished a large ram skull, with curling golden horns and black and white lacy decoupage. I’m working on some top hat fascinators, and playing around with some winged rabbit and rat skulls in frames.
bunnyhawk >> Do you have a style icon?
I can only follow what speaks to me as I address each skull individually, and hope that what I create will bring happiness to the person who buys it as it did to me to work on it!