By Stuart Greer
Kate Egan's stall is a big hit at the Treacle Market in Macclesfield, which returns this Sunday
When the injured Jackdaw that Kate Egan was nursing died, she had no idea it would change the direction of her life.
Desperate to preserve the bird she had fallen in love with the mum-of-one took a course in taxidermy.
Eighteen months on the 29-year-old has launched a taxidermy and natural art business, Dead Things by Kate, which sells one-off pieces of art using ethically-sourced animals, flora and fauna.
Her stall at The Treacle Market in Macclesfield has become a big hit since first appearing last December.
But it is not to everyone’s taste, Kate said. “Some people walk past and call it disgusting. Others love it. There are lot of misconceptions about taxidermy. People think we are killing the animals when most of us are conservationists, and our aim is to preserve the life, educate and provide opportunity for everyone to be able to appreciate ‘Wild Britain’.
“My favourite reaction is from children. You get to teach them about animals and bring them close to creatures they may have never seen. It is like a natural history lesson, and may inspire them to become naturalists and zoologists.”
Kate’s love of art was developed by her dad Brendan’s art collection and an inspirational art teacher at Puss Bank Primary School.
After studying art at Macclesfield College Kate decide to explore a career in her other love, horses, at Reaseheath College.
She then got a job working running a carriage at funeral.
Kate said: “Looking back you can see the journey I took here. A love of art, the countryside, and then working around death every day. My job on the carriage was special and informed my understanding of life and death.”
But the big step into taxidermy was accident, Kate explained.
“I tried really hard to save a Jackdaw and became really enamoured with it,” she said. “When it died I decided to do a taxidermy course and it seemed to trigger something in me.”
Kate began collecting animal skulls from Macclesfield Forest.
She said: “I saw the art in them and put together a piece and mounted it. I shared photos of my pieces on social media and they were a hit.”
Just like that Dead Things By Kate was born and her hobby became a business.
Demand for her work has been growing rapidly. Her most popular pieces are Curio frames containing British Wildlife, Bone Curio and Entomology along with traditional taxidermy including fox masks.
With ordeers piling up Kate has a collection of 50 skulls including a wolf and ancient breed of cow.
Her mission to revive the art of taxidermy has also been given a boost after receiving a £4,200 New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) loan which has allowed her to invest in more advanced taxidermy courses, materials and chemicals and a camera to photograph her work for her online business.
She has already inspired her five-year-old son Oscar to follow in her footsteps.
Kate said: “Oscar is fascinated by animals and what I do with them. He’s already stood up in class and announced he wants to be a taxidermist like his mum. I bet that was a shock to his teacher.”
Kate recently moved to St Helens to study with Steve Brown, an expert in the field. But she returns to Macclesfield regularly to visit her family including mum Janet, step-dad Martin Phillips, sisters Jess and Louise, and brother Tom. Photos.