Image by JFC
Since its debut in 2008, RP Encore has been able to emerge as a brand renowned wthin the Fashion industry for blurring boundary lines between what we would observe and wear as art: in most cases, testing traditional & modern takes on social awareness regarding taste.
The collision of taxidermy, cult fashion and precious adornment is run by aestheticist Reid Peppard, who creates work with heart firmly in tandem with ethos.
SB: With Jewellery being a temporal means of adornment, would you say there is more of a need to make a defining statement in what you create, in order to communicate the same level of importance as permanent ones?RP: That’s a very interesting question… jewellery is unusual in that it manages to be a temporal means of adornment that can actually last longer than more permanent means such as piercings and tattoos because it is something that can be passed down from generation to generation. If you’re wearing an item of jewellery every day, you will slowly wear dent and rub it in a fashion totally unique to you… that’s something that I love about specifically working with fine sterling silver and gold: it’s like a precious sculpture that you personalise when you wear it. That’s also why I like to make everything by hand, and talk about what inspired the pieces to be made in the first part. It’s all part of the long term story.
SB: Why would you say your work is closer to an encore, than a rebirth?
RP: I think of my work is really both an encore and a rebirth… I chose the name RP/Encore when my jewellery/accessories were still mostly taxidermy based, but now that I’ve progressed into cast item jewellery and conceptual jewellery pieces I suppose it really is more of a rebirth than an encore. From the very beginning I was drawn to taxidermy as a tool in my artwork because of it’s unusual ability to “be” and “not be”. A crow preserved using traditional taxidermy methods will only retain the skin feathers and perhaps skull of the dead crow it originally came from, and after that’s gone through the tanning process you can sculpt it to make it look like a crow again, but is it really a crow? It’s kind of this awkward grey area.SB: The use of organic remnants as jewellery is by no means a new concept, but your work tends to be more invasive i.e. a rabbit heart locket as opposed to just a feather earring etc. Is there beauty to be found in all areas of the anatomy, as far as adornment is concerned?RP: The soft tissue cast item jewellery that I make is personally my favourite… partially because it’s the most difficult to produce! I love the abstract beauty of internal organs, tongues, muscles etc. Part of what still captivates me about the process of taxidermy is getting to see the intricate biology that makes up the animals I work with… I find it overwhelmingly beautiful. In death you’re able to see what makes life… it’s pretty stupefying. I also think that’s what sets RP/Encore apart from other brands that might buy in a bag of feathers to make a batch of feather earrings or doing a CAD drawing of a biological heart design… it’s just all that little bit more intimate.
SB: Is the combination of paying homage to such a respected practice, as well as creating pieces that will posses appeal (and originality) within 21st century fashion, a difficult balancing act?
RP: I don’t think so. But then I’m constantly working… most hours of the day… seven days a week… every day of the year. To work for yourself in fashion/the arts is to be a slave to the creative ether which is a difficult balancing act in and of itself.
SB: What don’t people realise about taxidermy?RP: People always seem to assume that taxidermy is made from animals shot or killed specifically for the purpose of being made into taxidermy. In the UK, 90% of taxidermy is done from roadkill, and I am one of many taxidermists who only uses animals who have died of natural or unavoidable causes. Additionally: taxidermy isn’t as bloody and gore filled as people often suppose.SB: Your work has been well received by the fashion industry and revered figures alike. Do your family appreciate your work to the same extent?RP: Well, my father thought I was bat shit crazy, but my mother and the rest of my family have all been extremely supportive. All of them send and e-mail over clips/articles they think might interest/relate to me, and even save little insect/animal remains they come across in their day-to-day. I’m very lucky.
SB: What is your earliest memory in experiencing taxidermy as a beautiful thing?
RP: Growing up in West Hollywood, my mother would often take my little sisters and I to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. I remember the first time I entered the African Mammal Hall… I was struck with unceasing wonder. I was absolutely certain that the animals where still alive… just staying very very still. The La Brea Tar Pits was also just down the road from us, so I was captured by animal preservation/fossils/taxidermy from an extremely young age. I even tried to get my parents to mortgage their house so that I (we) could buy a full triceratops skeleton. I still maintain this would have been an excellent investment, but my parents where surprisingly less convinced…
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