Fauna Fatale

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9. faunafatale_bat.jpg
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10 days of ink-dipping for #inktober under the theme of Fauna Fatale (animals x death).

I wanted to play with a ‘flash tattoo’ style of illustration, or motifs. The kind that is displayed on the entranceways and walls of tattoo parlours for the perusal of walk-in customers.

I also wanted to pen some thoughts on animal death, drawing from personal experiences as a veterinarian.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of this work was having the privilege to support animals through their end of life experience. And to end suffering by way of euthanasia, a practice that holds great potential for artistry and ceremony. It called upon a sensitivity to my own role amongst family members and the community, my own hand in life and death, as well as a concurrent attention away from myself because throughout the facilitation it is not about me.

Poignant moments that make you forget yourself, and have you melting into your context are a rare honour. And it is possible to feel very light afterwards.

Select Notes:

A coin per head for Charon, the ferryman who carries freshly dead souls along the river bisecting the living from the dead. Forget your coin and be left to wander the shores of the bardo as a restless, fidgety ghost. // Pictured: Patrick van Periwinkle & Havelock Vector (affectionately known as Pat & Hav) (or Portorico & Haburoku). My gold-hooded rat companions, nimble clowns, nobs of butter personified. Patrick’s corpse was kept in the morgue (freezer) until Havelock joined him a fortnight later. They crossed the river together, and r.i.p.

Autonomy—noun: (1) personal independence (2) a mechanism of self-amputation, whereby an appendage (such as a stinger, tail, claw) is shed to affect a predator. The honeybee stings to protect the hive, and dies in doing so.

Pushing up daisies is a pretty way of saying ‘to be deceased’.

The ‘brutal’ method of ending a chicken’s life with a cone and a sharp knife can often be the most humane (and most accessible). And hence the best option. Less bloody methods such as chemical euthanasia have the potential for some of the most nightmarish endings I have ever seen.

And her 9 lives.

Stairway to heaven—through death’s door.

The ominous Death’s-head hawkmoth is a muse and symbol for superstition and pop-culture. Apparently they emit a mouse-like squeak when panicked, and like to masquerade with a honeybee scent so that they can raid their hives.

On planned departures, or the letting go of a loved animal friend—it might bring some comfort to realise that they make no plans for the future, and feel no sorrow about their time discontinuing. For them, all that matters is now. From The School of Life: ‘We mustn’t worry. They are not unhappy. They are properly at peace. They don’t need us now. They don’t blame us for anything. They are not angry with us. We cannot hurt or disappoint them. They do not resent us for being alive. It may be frightening to die; it is not frightening to be dead. They are at peace.’