Escape from the Animal Attic

The Animal Attic is an upstairs space gallery space at the Otago Museum.

It not only sheds light on taxonomy and evolution, but on Victorian-era architecture and ideas about how museums should be presented to the public. From Falkland wolves to rat kings, from giant crabs to beautiful glass models of invertebrates by the Blascka family, the Animal Attic highlights the diversity of species on Earth and explores evolutionary relationships in the animal kingdom.

Many Dunedin artists have been inspired by the Museum over the years and its not uncommon to find people sketching the exhibits. As an artist myself I often go there for inspiration and earlier this year I  began a project to paint some of my favorite exhibits on public walls around the city.

‘Escape from the Animal Attic’ is the first group show to be held in the gallery space at the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery. It features work from over 30 artists, mostly from Dunedin but a couple from Wellington. The show will run between November 8th and December, 1rst, 2019.

If you are interested in more information about any of the art work below and the size of each piece you are welcome to contact Bruce at –


The artists involved are – 

Nada Crofskey-Rayner

Humanity’s desire to flaunt the obtained form goes beyond the sense of self, to the extent of attempting specimen preservation exceeding scientific observational purposes. Trophies of difference, predator or prey. Locked behind glass in a musty display. Slowly degrading as it crumbles farther from its original form into a grotesque mimicry of its former self.

‘Exquisite corpse’ ( $350 framed. ) – Water colour on paper


Holly Aitchison

I am an autodidact who switches between drawing with ink, graphite or charcoal and painting in oil or watercolour. My work is primarily representational and touches on themes of death, osteology, anatomy, feminism and sexuality.

I find that part of the joy/creepiness of the animal attic is the feeling of being stared at by hundreds of glass eyes, a claustrophobic guilt at their slaughter sets in and I begin mentally apologising to them for how their lives ended

.’The Animal Attic’ ($500 unframed) – pen and ink on paper


Pamela Brown

Artist, Mother, Educator,

Born Southland and lives & works in Dunedin, NZ.

Diploma Fine &Applied Arts / Diploma Teaching

Master Fine Arts (distinction)

Known for colourful painted family portraits.

Creator of The Wallpaper House Installation.

Partner in the Art Department – art educators in  Dunedin.

A part-time lecturer at The University of Otago College of Education

Visual diary Art Workshops held privately by Pamela at the wallpaper House. Currently working with  – collage,wallpaper,maps,aprons,ballerinas,animals and much more.

‘Adorned Creatures’ – $650 – Acrylic Paint on Canvas


Sarah Auckram

I am a Law and History Otago University graduate who loves to paint in my spare time. Lately I have been working on a series of still life paintings of indoor plants. I have sold these in previous University of Otago Art Week exhibitions. Now that I have finished studying I will hopefully have more spare to enjoy my creative hobbies.

New Zealand Sea lion $180 (framed) – Framed painting on paper


Kerry Mackay

Artist and Art Educator: B.ED, MFA.

I am interested in ‘reskinning’ objects, bags and skulls, to transform them, keeping some of the history of the object and adding another layer of story. I use vintage woollen blankets in my work as I love everything about them, their history, their colour, their warmth, and the way they stretch and cover shapes. I then bind and stitch with wool and embroidery thread adding new imagery to the skin of the object.

‘Chamois Mount’ $900 – Hand embroidered mount


Sarah Flourish

I’m a largely self taught artist, though with some excellent tuition at King’s FVA course before it was axed. I’m lucky enough to have a good home studio in which to indulge around the edges of my busy lifestyle and that annoying, though fiscally necessary, 9-5 thing. I tend to get carried away when I start a project and usually work in multiples. My preference is towards unusual supports for painting. I have an old pastry roller for a printing press and I also enjoy sculptural and assemblage projects. A self deprecating sense of humour is usually evident in my work and my art practice provides a good work life balance and helps keep me healthy and happy.

Mona the Monkey’ and ‘The Kangaroo with the big ball sack’ – $250 each – acrylic paintings on canvas


Serra Kilduff

Serra Kilduff is an undisciplined artist who currently lives between Port Chalmers and Southern Fiordland. She is influenced by tattoo design, scientific illustration, comics and a bunch of artists, from Audrey Eagle to Patricia Piccinini.

Photo Pending

Maximillian Smith

Maximillian Smith is a young Dunedin artist and graphic designer.

Photo Pending

Robert Scott

I have been exploring the world of painting for some years now, and still trying to come to grips with it. I came from a background of drawing War comics as a kid and progressed to doing pen and ink drawings of buildings and farms on the Taieri, where I grew up until I went to Art School in Dunedin.

I have enjoyed working on posters and album covers of the bands I have played with since 1980, it is a great opportunity to try out different ideas.

During the last few years I have been using hardboard cut into different shapes to work on. At the moment I have quite a few commissions to do and no shortage of drawings to try and convert into new paintings. I have been trying to free up my style of late and set myself some new art goals in my approach.

“Scopus Umbretta’ – $500(framed) – Acrylic paints on board


Louisa Baillie

I make primarily sculptural works. I also work full time supporting the Otago University Anatomy Museum. My job focuses on maintaining and making new anatomy teaching models. The collection is historical as well as contemporary, and is an inspiring place to be.

Photo Pending

Jonny Waters

“Jonny Waters is a Visual Artist currently based in Ōtepoti, Dunedin. Jonny mainly  works with acrylic and aerosol paint at both a small and large scale. He completed a Visual Communication Design degree at Ara in Ōtautahi, Christchurch and then trained to be a qualified Secondary School Art Teacher. He is currently a picture framer at The Framer’s Room and Alternative Education Teacher at The Kokiri Centre. Jonny has also curated and organised several Art and Performance based shows, both independently and for Fringe Festival. In recent years his art practice has focussed on the twisting and distorting of nostalgic cartoon characters as plywood cut-outs.

‘Mezzanine’  – $450 – Plywood cut-outs and acrylic paints


Motoko Kikkawa
Born Tokyo, Japan 1968 Lives in Dunedin

1984 Graduated Nihon University, BA of Philosophy, Tokyo, Japan

1998 – Moved to Europe
1999 to 2003 Lived in Melbourne 2005 Moved to Dunedin,

2010 Completed BVA, Dunedin School of Art

Numerous exhibitions all over NZ and in Japan

‘The Animal Attic’ – $450 – Pen and ink on paper (framed)


Jacque Ruston

Tena Koutou Katoa. Born in Dunedin & spent the 90s in Wellington. I have an honours degree in English Lit. Studied Creative Writing at Whitireia. Wrote & produced a play, short stories, poetry, started Salty Dog vintage. But to dig down and reconnect with painting and find out who I was, aside from the jumble of cultural overload, Mc Jobs and doomed relationships, I had to return to my turangawaewae – Dunedin. It was only then that I took up painting, and guitar. And have felt my spirit fill the empty well. I am mum, gardener, X gen, social activist, dog person at Roseneath Artist Sanctuary & manage Port Chalmers Community Market & of late, member of the West Harbour Community Board.

‘The Serpents of the Animal Attic’ – $340 – Oil paint on board

Jacque Ruston

Dallas Henly

Dallas was raised in the Far North in a creative family but, when it came time to choose subjects in high school, her parents said not to take art as “that won’t get you a job.”  Fast forward nearly 30 years, Dallas finds herself surrounded by talented, supportive people who have reignited her love for making things.  Early in 2018, she took a print-making class at Otago Polytech.  Later, she sold her first painting at a local market.  In December 2018, she leapt into an art career by opening a gallery with her partner in Port Chalmers.

‘Honey – I’m Coming Home’ – $230 – Framed goauche and gold leaf cut outs on paper


Fifi Colston

Fifi Colston is an award-winning illustrator, author and World of Wearable Art designer. Her works on velvet have featured in sell out solo shows and feature New Zealand native birds, flowers and beetles. This is her first foray into deep sea life. Fifi spent 6 months of 2019 in Dunedin as writer and illustrator in residence at Otago University, and has left some of her heart and paintbrushes there.

Photo Pending

Peter Lewis

Peter Lewis has been cutting up and remixing popular culture since 1991. Inspired by legendary punk artist Winston Smith, Dadaist Max Ernst, and the Pop Surrealist movement, he amputates images from their original contexts and expertly grafts them onto new hosts. Packed full of silly details, visual puns and careful symmetry, Peter’s collages draw you in to a world where childhood images take on sinister new meanings or make dirty jokes together. Peter’s work has been featured on TVNZ’s “The Gravy” art show and in coffee table book “Masters: Collage. Major Works by Leading Artists” by US art publisher Lark Books.

“The God of Never-born things’ – $250 (Collage on canvas)


Nicola Jackson

Nicola Jackson was born in Dunedin, studied Fine Arts at Canterbury University and has been the Rita Angus Artist in Residence, the Frances Hodgkins Fellow and awarded a Goethe Institute scholarship to study in Germany. She has exhibited regularly since 1981. She works in painting and sculpture installations and her work is informed by a graphic sensibility and extensive craft skills. Her most recent major work is the installation “The Bloggs”. The continuum of the research and development of ideas which inform her work has as a constant a love of museums, especially anatomy museums and the Animal Attic.

‘Bilby’ (Sold) and ‘Five speckled eggs’ – $500 – Mixed Media

‘Mexican Red Kneed Tarantula’- $350 – metallic construction by Conway Dean (see below)


Hannah Short

Born in Dunedin, Hannah has been keeping a visual diary by taking her persistent nightly dreams, mixing them with life experiences and then translating them into ink drawings from a young age.

This year Hannah has been heavily inspired by the natural symmetry of nature, linear beauty of Henna and utilising colourful contrast and luminescent paint which, in her work symbolises perception and adds a magical element of surprise to each piece.

Hannah shares work on her Facebook page “HanaHrt” and has paintings on display in cafes around Dunedin and the Caitlins. Her largest painting features at Collective Gallery and has a recently completed commission piece at Wakari Hospital Specialist Addiction Services.

‘Milk Snake’ -$350 – Acrylic on Board


Kaylie Black

I dabble in a range of crafts including cosplay, book binding, plushies, corsetry, jewellery, pixel bead art, free motion machine embroidery and bone carving. I value upcycling and use primarily second hand resources for all of my creations. Some of my favourite materials are leather (Jackets), metal findings (Old bags), upcycled fabrics (Op-shops are great for this) and altering/tailoring old clothing.

Variety truly is the spice of life.

‘Flying Fox Corset – $450 – mixed media – this piece can actually be worn as a corset!

Flying fox corset 1

Flyiong fox corset 2

Kate Watts

I am a designer and textile artist based in Dunedin. I completed my design degree in Christchurch in 2001, and have just finished studying towards a Masters in Visual Arts at Otago Polytech in 2019.
My work, whether in design or art, often begins with a trip to the museum. I have vivid memories of trips to Canterbury Museum as a child, and still have a deep love of museums and natural history collections. The Animal Attic is one of my favourite places to visit in Dunedin.
I am passionate about dye and colour, my artworks vary from small detailed trompe l’oeil dyed artworks to large sculptural installations.
These works for the Museum of Natural Mystery are made using a Japanese printing technique called Katazome. Rice paste resist is applied through a stencil onto the cloth, with pigment dye or pigment or hand painted over the top.

‘Franciscana Dolphin -$89 –  limited edition print (100 total) on linen


Madison Kelly

Madison Kelly (b.1994) is an Ōtepoti based artist grounded in drawing, looking, and re-looking. Expanding upon traditions of observation, research, and institution, her practice aims to reckon with human/nonhuman interactions in an increasingly uncertain era.

Dave Herbert

Dave is a little shy. He doesn’t like writing much either but he’s a stonking artist and makes awesome cut-out animals (like the flat-pack moa for sale in the museum).

‘Huhu Beetle – $350 – Painting on canvas


Sarah Sharma

I’m an Art Teacher at King’s High School where I have worked for the 18 years. I dabble in many creative processes, which include graphic design, painting and printmaking.

Alongside my friend and business partner Prue Edge I have a Design company called We specialise in quirky, off beat and often humorous Designs with a retro flavour. We produce tee shirts, tea towels, embroidered patches, and paper printed works.

This year I have been spending a lot of time painting character portraits of vintage mug shots, which I exhibited at Pea Sea Art in Port Chalmers in early August as part of an Art collective I belong to called “The Pantie Bag Collective”.

‘Gorilla’ – $250 – Acrylic on Board


Alan Dove

Alan Dove is a Dunedin based commercial, portrait and fine art photographer. His non-commercial work tends to focus on exploring issues such as environmental degradation, human (over) consumption and our attitudes to dealing with waste.

He is also particularly drawn to photographing the beauty of trees and the rugged central and coastal Otago landscapes. These vast mostly unpopulated spaces are a pleasant counterbalance to the busy, but low-key vibe of George Street where his studio in situated.

‘Domesticated Guinea Pig’ – $250 – framed photo


Veronica Grace-Brett

Veronica is a 28 year old female human animal who lives in Dunedin. She is also a very skilled illustrator, cartoonist and tattooist. I think she’s cool.


Bruce Mahalski

New Zealand artist Bruce Mahalski has had solo and group exhibitions of his art work  in a range of media including screen-printing, photography, painting and sculpture since 1996.

In 2005 he made the first bone gun for an anti-war exhibition called Full Spectrum Dominance and by 2010 he had begun to specialize in his trademark textural  bone sculptures. He is also a mural artist and the director of the Dunedin Museum of natural Mystery.

‘Bobtail Squid – Based on a glass model by the Blaschka Family – $250 – Acrylic paint on canvas.


Andy McCready,

Andy is a  painter from Dunedin with a predilection for pop, lowbrow and illustration. You can generally find him at punk rock gigs or partaking of the free beer at art openings.

Style in a nutshell?

Retro-inflected eye candy on hand-cut, shaped boards. Playful, meticulous, kitschy. Living out my hair and tattoo fantasies by painting imaginary girls who are cooler than me…

“The Red head’s’ and ‘The Ritual’ – $350 each or $600 for the pair – Paint on ceramics


Conway Dean

Born in Perth, Western Australia, Conway Dean is a self-taught sculptor and jack of all trades. Conway started making wire sculptures while working in a steel factory in the late 1980s. From these humble beginnings, he has developed his own style, inspired by impressionist artists like Van Gogh. Mainly working on commission, he has made a range of native New Zealand birds and more recently has been inspired my marine and terrestrial arthropods (bugs). Conway currently works at Otago Museum as a Facilities Officer, taking care of the displays in the Tūhura Science Centre.

‘Rubble Crab’ – $550 – mixed media metal construction

Madison Kelly

‘ Flamingo exposing its own taxidermy’

The Animal Attic is a space for sitting with animals as they are, and animals as humans choose them to be. Living flamingos filter-feed on the algae and small invertebrates swimming at their feet. The Animal Attic’s flamingo feeds upon the board on which its body is mounted. In a tireless loop of board to feet, to legs, to tail, to shelving, to wings, to shadows, to neck, to frame, to head, to feet, to board, to cabinet, the flamingo exposes its own construction again, and again.

Charcoal on paper



Nico Madill

Assemlitage is the style I guess I naturally stumbled into post high school. When spending late nights sitting on my bedroom floor, experimenting with whatever cheap art supplies I had on hand, this process is what I have more or less run with ever since.

Being a naturally lazy and procrastinating body I frequently find myself on the brink of disaster in regards to the finishing of work. The assemlitage for this particular exhibition was no different and was born out of the ashes and rage of two previous failed attempts.

‘Strawberry letter #23’ – Sold – Mixed media assemblage.


Anita Clark

Anita Clark is primarily a violin player and composer, performing under the moniker Motte. Usually artworks are created as a side project in the form of band posters or commissioned illustrations. – “Even though I find taxidermy oddly fascinating and disturbing, I’ve always held a penchant for collecting dead things; a taxidermied rat, some dead birds, bones, bugs, things in jars.. Recently while touring, I’ve made a habit of drawing taxidermy portraits, finding it absurdly comical that in the same way you can capture the animation of a living being, you can also capture the non-glint of the dead animals eyes or the atrophied joints and muscle, especially funny when it’s dressed up to seem alive. I chose these two figures as I love/hate the classic museum style display and the curious decisions of placement by the curator”.

‘Canary Row – $300 – Framed Pen and ink on Paper

Sam Ovens

Sam is a Dunedin-based musician, artist and experienced screen-printer of 15 years. Sam has exhibited works in Canada, USA and locally within New Zealand. For this exhibition Sam chose ‘Land’ based creatures and their parts from the animal attic at the Otago Museum.

‘Reinventing Extinction’ – -$200 – Painting on Board


Sharon Singer

Sharon was born in England, in 1965 and now resides and works in New Zealand. She gained a BA in Visual Art and Design (2000) and completed her MFA (2008). She has participated in numerous solo exhibitions, group shows and national awards including NZ Portrait Award, Wellington (Finalist 2000), James Wallace Art Award Auckland (finalist 2003), Waikato National Art Award, Hamilton (Merit 2001), and Norse wear Art Award (Winner 2002). As well as recently venturing into illustration in Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, edited by Jack Zipes (2nd edition, New York: Routledge 2006),and Utopian Tales; edited by Jack Zipes (The Caseroom Press U.K 2008).Her work is held in private and public collections in New Zealand and internationally. She has worked with fairy tales and myth as the subject of her paintings since 2000., invoking concerns such as narrative and meta-fictional awareness, feminist re-telling and fairy tale as popular culture.

‘Fukishima Wasabi – Murakami Spider Crab’ – $450 – Oil on Canvas

Sharon Singer

Jo Robertson

Johanna Juppe, formerly known also as Jo Robertson, was born & raised in West Otago. At an early age she has been a lover of birds & animals. She learnt how to walk following hens around the farm paddock at Waikoikoi & was bestowed with natural bird catching abilities. Miss Juppe’s first experience of the Animal Attic was at age 8 & mostly it terrified her, since she had only ever been around live animals on the farm, this experience brought up many intense philosophical questions about life and death & wonderings as to why anyone would want to stuff an animal like that in the first place. Naturally now revisiting the Animal Attic as a somewhat evolved human being, Miss Juppe can now appreciate the collection from several different lenses. It is natural that she was drawn to the cabinet of Magpies as her first subject, as she once had a pet Magpie called “ Hey Baby” & also to the Red Deer in the stairway to the Attic, she saw him as a type of Kaitiaki. Positioned in the corner of the stairway drawing the deer, she was able to hear what children were saying before turning the corner to the Attic… a lot of them said they were scared.

‘Red Deer Mount’ – $380 – Framed Sepia Oil Pencil on paper



Facts and figures

2624 specimens on display

  • 482 taxidermy specimens
  • 1321 pinned specimens
  • 23 specimens in fluid, including a whale’s eyeball
  • 59 skulls and skeletons
  • 516 dried molluscs and crustaceans
  • 148 eggs, including an ostrich egg
  • 30 study skins, including a tiger skin
  • 7 fossilIMG_1055Some of the work in the show












About artordeath

Bruce Mahalski is a Dunedin artist, known for his illustration, street murals, and sculpture incorporating animal bones. He is founder and director of the Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery, a private museum of natural history and ethnographic objects and curios.
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