Life-sized knitted giraffe skeleton set to be unveiled as part of upcoming art exhibition

Michele Beevors’ knitted menagerie forms part of an art exhibition set to open on April 9 at the Tūhura Otago Museum’s Animal Attic.

Supplied/Otago Musuem

Michele Beevors’ knitted menagerie forms part of an art exhibition set to open on April 9 at the Tūhura Otago Museum’s Animal Attic.

Dunedin artist Michele Beevors knows how to spin a yarn that gets people talking: First, she knits a life-sized replica of a giraffe skeleton, then she exhibits it.

Beevors’ latest artwork, a 4m-high knitted giraffe skeleton, is a new feature among the Victorian taxidermy specimens featured in Tūhura Otago Museum’s Animal Attic.

Beevors has previously knitted and showcased knitted skeletons, from a human skeleton to various animals including a horse, an emu and even a koala.

The giraffe forms part of her latest exhibition, set to open on Saturday, which will be the first special exhibition held in the museum’s Animal Attic.

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A sketch Beevors made in 2018 when she started working on a life-sized knitted giraffe. She estimated it would take about $1000 worth of wool to create.

Hamish McNeilly/Stuff

A sketch Beevors made in 2018 when she started working on a life-sized knitted giraffe. She estimated it would take about $1000 worth of wool to create.

“This exhibition reflects on the world of collecting, of human impact, conservation politics and the sad realities of species loss and extinction,” said Tūhura Otago Museum natural sciences curator Emma Burns.

“While the sculptured material is soft, the subject of the works is hard.

“Art is often able to hold these conversations in a different way to science.”

Beevors works on the knitted giraffe skeleton as part of the special exhibition.

Otago Museum/Supplied

Beevors works on the knitted giraffe skeleton as part of the special exhibition.

Beevors, who had been a knitter since she was a young girl, is the principal lecturer in sculpture at the Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin School of Art.

In a 2018 interview with Stuff, she noted the giraffe project could take months to complete and use about $1000 worth of wool.

The woollen skeleton was designed to be folded-up and stored, and would be displayed using armatures – a metal framework used by artists.

A life-sized knitted giraffe skeleton that will form part of the exhibition ‘Michele Beevors: Anatomy Lessons’.

OTAGO MUSEUM/Supplied

A life-sized knitted giraffe skeleton that will form part of the exhibition ‘Michele Beevors: Anatomy Lessons’.

Beevors began working on life-sized knitted sculptures 15 years ago

“The Animal Attic has had a sad fascination for me since I moved to Dunedin 20 years ago,” she said.

Beevors researched anatomical exhibits in Sydney, Paris, and Vienna to draw and collect data towards creating this exhibition.

“There is almost a primal need to knit in times of eco-anxiety. So, to knit these forms is the most appropriate, intimate, and respectful means to lament the abject state of the natural world,” she said.

Dunedin-based Australian artist Michele Beevors in 2018, with a skelton of a giraffe.

Hamish McNeilly/Stuff

Dunedin-based Australian artist Michele Beevors in 2018, with a skelton of a giraffe.

“Each of the works exhibited here represents a relationship developed through this lengthy process with each animal.”

The 12-piece exhibition, called Michele Beevors: Anatomy Lessons, would be available until July 24.

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