Susan Badcock was led to her body of work Road Kill by a long-standing captivation with collections. Badcock photographs birds struck by cars on New Zealand roads, aiming to showcase the beauty and restore the personality of each creature. She then hand-colors the print, enhancing the piece with intentional detail and a subtle sense of movement. The impression of blurred motion, the light background (not black, as other artists have used when working with similar subject matter), and the position of the birds–compact like preserved specimens but also floating vertically in the frame–make the series feel to me graceful and ethereal, in a way more animated than the typical (dead animal) still life. The animals seem to have come alive once again in the creation of the pictures.

From the artist’s statement: Inspired by museum collections and the painterly art of the eighteenth century, I strive to rescue the grotesque mutilations of wildlife that have died pointlessly and unwittingly on New Zealand roads. My aim is to restore beauty and dignity to these plentiful animals that would otherwise receive little or no consideration.

The physicality of my photoshoots are always linked with the intricacies of hand colouring and I have an acute awareness of how colour will enhance and add additional elements to the finished work as I am shooting. The union of contemporary subject matter and the traditional photographers’ method of adding colour by hand sees attenuated water colours or thick heavy oils intensifying and diluting movement, creating emphasis and exploring detail. I am the hunter gatherer and my art builds textural and compositional elements as the birds hold their space without distraction. While I preserve the honour of the bird and its pigmentation, I am not restricted by its natural state. Instead, I am guided by my personal sensitivity and perception towards colour. Mine is a marriage of contemporary and traditional that draws the viewer in and redefines preconceived hypotheses of normal.

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