What to expect at Black Crow Taxidermy & Art’s ‘Believe’ exhibition

This is founder Vivian Tham's first solo exhibition.

Sherlyn Sim

Considers knowing how to use a rice cooker an achievement.

Published: 14 October 2022, 3:08 PM

Ever wanted to see a two-headed snake? What about a beetle with butterfly wings, or a moment of life “frozen” in time? 

You can find all that and more at Black Crow Taxidermy and Art’s (BCTA) newest exhibition, titled Believe, from now until Oct 30.

For the uninitiated, taxidermy is the art of preserving an animal’s body for the purpose of display or study.

The exhibition is themed around fantasy and mythical creatures, with pieces including chimaera taxidermy, paintings using taxidermied elements and reassembled skeletons. The artworks are all handcrafted by founder Vivian Tham.

Here are some highlights that you can look forward to at the exhibition:

Bird photo booth

Right after entering the exhibition space, one can spot a photo booth with taxidermied birds on display. BCTA’s founder Vivian Tham encourages visitors to have a photoshoot with the birds as it is a rare opportunity.

“You don’t ever have this chance in the museum. Everything is behind glass, you cannot feel it, you cannot see it, you cannot touch it up close,” she said.


The photo booth area features many different birds that visitors can pose with. PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


Visitors can also post their photos at the photo booth on Instagram and tag BCTA’s official account for a chance to win prizes like a free workshop at its studio.

Artworks with wings

After the photo booth, there is a segment of artworks created using wings from insects.

Vivian believes that there is a lot more potential behind taxidermy than just studies and research. The insect mandalas she has created in this segment reflect this sentiment. 

She utilises butterflies, beetles, moths and other insects to create intricate works of art.


This yellow mandala was originally intended to be circular, but took a different form due to the limited materials available. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


The pieces are crafted and layered to present a kaleidoscopic effect. The process of creation often requires her to be flexible and creative as there are often limitations. “It’s not like you can go to an art store and buy something. So we have to be fluid in what we do,” she explained.

Many of her pieces also feature animals that can be found in Singapore, especially the insects and beetles.


One of the insects used in the mandala is the rare white ghost cicada. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


According to Vivian, many of the animals she uses in her artworks are donated by museums and government organisations, or by people when they find roadkill.

Blending reality with fantasy

Another category of artwork is the chimaera taxidermy pieces. The pieces are made with parts of different animals that are salvaged from donations, or from leftovers during workshops where breakage may occur.

With her vivid imagination, she crafts these creatures with specific character backstories.


The butterfly wings are attached where the beetle’s wings would normally be to make it seem more seamless. YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


Through these art pieces, Vivian hopes to reduce the stigma surrounding taxidermy. She explained: “We try to defuse the thought that taxidermy is very bloody and gory, but (instead) it is something to be enjoyed”.

The dark room

Meanwhile, the reassembled skeletons and skulls of different animals are kept in a separate room from the other art pieces.

Here, the room is lit with special ultraviolet light to showcase a little-known fact about bones – they glow in the dark.


The glow adds an eerie atmosphere to the room that makes the works on display even more fascinating. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHERLYN SIM


The various different art pieces on display are also for sale with the proceeds going towards animal welfare charities in Singapore. This is part of BCTA’s efforts to promote animal conservation in Singapore.

Vivian hopes that through this exhibition, she is able to ignite various passions in people.

“It’s not just an art exhibition. (It is like) a mother introducing science and art to their child…maybe in a few years they will look back and say, ‘Hey, this is where my passion and hobbies stemmed from’ and they might be the next scientist or zoologist,” she said. 

Visitors who are interested in learning more can catch Vivian at the gallery every Saturday from 7.30pm to 9pm. There will also be talks held by the Herpetological Society of Singapore in conjunction with the exhibition at 5pm on Oct 15 and 3pm on Oct 23.

The exhibition, which is free to visit, is held at the UltraSuperNew Gallery, 168 Tyrwhitt Road, 207572. It is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, from 12pm to 8pm.

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