Dead Rat

I found a strangely mutilated rat while walking the dog around Hulme. I actually cried out when I saw it as I was so disturbed. It’s one of the most horrifying and fantastic things I’ve ever seen. It’s head was missing and it’s flesh was folded like a foreskin revealing much of the headless spine. I took some photos of it, I visited it a couple of times. I’ve grown very fond of this rat and have been drawing it and making objects that resemble it. I am fascinated by the abject… “No shit?”

I’m still trying to hone my watercolour techniques. It’s not easy. I’ve had some success but not much. Some of these are too careful. The freer ones work better but they still take a lot of work.

I decided to make a version of the rat using clay. I wanted to make an oversized version. I have thought about sound with it and can imagine the sound of rats scratching wood, like when you can hear them running under the floorboards. I need to do a lot of recording with live rats. I will approach some pet shops although it would be better to have the real sewer rats like the one I found.

I made a sort of armature with steel wire to support the clay.

I found that I wasn’t happy with the finish and the structure wasn’t strong enough to support the clay. I haven’t worked in this way with clay before so I have a lot to learn. I learnt that to dry clay without cracking you must dry it slowly and cover it with plastic and damp cloths (thanks Matt Dalby and Jennifer McDonald for the advice).

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Louise Woodcock

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