Helly Powell

About Helly Powell

Born and brought up in Abergavenny, Helly left school at 15 and worked in the textile industry before she started creating animal heads from materials (an art she calls fauxidermy) at her former dairy farm in Monmouthshire.

I’ve worked with textiles for more than 20 years. One company I worked for used to make props for exhibitions and films. I made animal heads for them – they were just shapes, not very detailed, but made me think about other ways I could do this.

The animals I make could never be mass-produced – I wouldn’t want them to be – they’d lose their charm and wouldn’t be so special for me. My work’s about celebrating the animal, whereas taxidermy is about taking the animal as a trophy. I get interest both from people who wouldn’t want taxidermy on their wall and from those who do and appreciate the intricacy of what I do. I can’t produce new species of animal in a short space of time because it takes months for me to create something that’s good enough to sell. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s what I love.

The fashion brand Ted Baker commissioned me to make animals for their first store in South Africa. The theme was based on Shakespeare’s garden. I made 15 animals altogether. Ted Baker like one-off pieces in their stores so it’s great to be recognised by a brand like that. Everything I create is hand-made so will never be mass produced for sale in a store.