With their vividly colored wings and as symbolisms of change, butterflies are one of the few insects that people actually love. But with an average lifespan of only two to four weeks, most of us won’t get to fully appreciate these beautiful bugs.
However, one woman is changing all of that and preserving butterflies forever. UK-based artist Fiona Parkinson’s Insect Dissectology is an innovative new medium that uses carved butterfly wings to create stunning displays of art.
Drawing on her master’s degree in fine arts and her passion for jigsaw puzzle assembly, Fiona expertly preserves specimens for people to enjoy for years to come. A “dissectologist” is someone who enjoys puzzles, hence the series’ name. Fiona’s pieces of intricately assembled art are a merge of traditional taxidermy preservation and creative designs. The result is an original line of modern artwork that will appeal to both curiosity collectors and fans of fine art alike.
Fiona’s pieces range from the whimsical to the morbid. In one design, a vibrant Luna moth is carefully curated under moon phases made from its own wings. In another piece, two species are paired together, one providing skeletons and the other providing coffins from their forewings.
What is truly mind-boggling about Fiona’s artwork is the extreme fragility of her medium. Butterfly wings, although strong enough to support the insect’s body as it flutters through the air, are, in fact, extremely delicate. One wrong slice of Fiona’s tools, and the wings are easily destroyed. It takes a precise and extremely steady hand to carve out intricate designs from real butterfly wings, and Fiona rises to the challenge.
A true globetrotter, Fiona has lived in England and South Africa. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2015, she went on to earn a master’s degree with distinction and was awarded the College of Arts Award while attending Lincoln University in Lincoln, England. Fiona’s art has been prominently featured across Europe, Northeast England, and the United States, and she has even been a guest on local BBC radio stations numerous times.
In addition to butterflies, Fiona has used birds, small mammals, spiders, and even bacteria in her artwork. She sources her specimens from conservation projects established to protect native populations.
“My techniques combine traditional methods of preservation and taxidermy with modern tools and technology to create beautiful pieces of artwork that can equally inspire emotion and wonder. Given the variation in every specimen, each piece is unique and is hand crafted by me in my studio or the lab. In much of my work the specimens are more akin to a precious paint, a paint that not only delivers diversity and beauty, but also holds within itself a natural emotional value and meaning from our response to the species,” Fiona explained on her website.
We’ve loved Fiona’s artwork so much that we featured it on a four-page spread, including an exclusive interview, in our latest book, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Out of the Box — on sale now!
If you’re passionate about pioneering artists, Fiona’s work is available for sale on her website.
Take Your Own Step Out of the Box!
Challenge yourself to get a little weird, try new things, and step out of your comfort zone with inspiration from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Out of the Box, available now on Amazon and at most major retailers.
By Stephanie Weaver, contributor for Ripleys.com