You trained with taxidermist George Jamieson and have developed traditional taxidermy skills into a fully-fledged sculptural practice. How did you get started and what was your trajectory into the art world?
PM It was quite an organic start in that I was trying out various materials in my early 20s. I used a bit of clay, made ink drawings and did a course in photography, before settling on taxidermy. As it was a pretty untapped medium at the time, I found there was more untrodden ground and scope for me to create original work.
You have said in the past that the fight to stay alive is more terrifying to you than death, which is ultimately a peaceful state. By remodelling dead animals into taxidermic states your work creates life in death. Can you say a bit more about your interest in this condition?
PM I’m not interested in reanimating or playing God, or even really in death. It is the prospect and approach of death that I am afraid of.
Once it has occurred, there is nothing to be afraid of. You are left with a dead body, which is just matter, like clay or stone. There is no fear or pain involved in the skinning and mounting of a dead animal. I think of it as logistics; the animal must die in order for me to begin work on it, this doesn’t mean the work is about death. In fact, it is increasingly abstract and more about form, colour and texture than anything else.
Your work is both technically complex and conceptually compelling. Is it important for you to achieve balance between the two?
PM I think as I’ve become more secure in my work it is less important for things to be technically complex. If the work requires it then it's fine, but often the simplest things work best. I went through a phase of always making casts of things I wanted to use: a scrap of wood or a sheet of paper, rather than using the actual material itself. In hindsight, I think this was an insecurity over complicating sculptures that would have been as (or more) effective made using the original material.