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  • Natalie Delaney-John

    FOUNDER, ARTIST & EDUCATOR

    Natalie started Australia’s first ever taxidermy workshops in 2014. She quickly recognised a need for greater access to the dying arts – ‘dying’ both in terms of skill sets no longer being taught in this country as well as a safe space to engage in dialogue on topics surrounding death.

    Through the expansion and popularity of her curriculum it has become clear that the bookishness of modern science and the elitism of academia can often serve to isolate people or prevent access to this rich and rewarding knowledge-base.

    Natalie’s unique education model has seen her and her team tour nationally and internationally. Together they have taught people from all walks of life from members of the general public with a curious mind right through to museum staff, teaching faculty, lecturers and academic students.

    Gavin Burland

    SCIENTIST & EDUCATOR

    Gavin has been working in the university sector in Anatomical Sciences across both Human Medicine and, more recently, Veterinary Sciences. During his 15 plus years of working in the industry he has gained extensive experience in plastination techniques, museum preparation techniques as well as anatomical embalming and dissection. Gavin’s experience spans working on things large and small, from rats, cats and dogs through to humans and all the way up to horses.

    Gavin is currently the Manager of Technical Operations in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney where he manages a team of 9 staff as well as managing the plastination lab and providing specialised anatomical technical support within the School.

    Gavin is the President of the Australasian Institute of Anatomical Sciences www.aias.net.au and has become the most recent member of the RIP Team as the facilitator of the new Corrosion Casting workshop

    Instagram: @plastination_vet

    Nicole Zehntner

    Museum Professional, Maker & Educator

    Nicole joins the RIP team, bringing with her years of experience in museum collections. Her background is in Botany but her deep love for the rich and stimulating environment of museums catapulted her into the arena. Nicole is a skill junky, she loves learning new skills as well as teaching others. This innate passion has seen her work in multiple areas behind the scenes of museums. From collections and research to exhibitions and display she has worked on just about everything from the tiniest of micro moths to the grandest of sperm whales.
    Nic has come on board to share her years of knowledge of insect pinning and preservation in our new entomology workshop which launches in 2020.

    Anthony Wilkes

    Scientist & Educator

    Anthony has been working in the university sector since 2008 and is currently the Senior Technical Officer in Veterinary Anatomy at the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences as well as being the current secretary of the Australasian Institute of Anatomical Sciences.

    Anthony has a broad range of technical experience, including anatomical embalming and dissection, but he specialises in skeletal preparation and articulation. Having had an interest in skeletal articulation since childhood, his extensive knowledge of this field predates his 12 years working within the university.

    Anthony has worked on a variety of species, both large and small. He learned his skills on small species like rabbits and cats but his more recent work includes some of nature’s greatest giants, such as a Sperm Whale, Elephant, White Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus!

    Anthony joins the RIP team in 2020 to develop and deliver a new range of Skeletal Articulation workshops.

    Roshana Vander Wall

    Scientist, assistant & educator

    Roshana has been working in the field of medical research for the last six years, following the completion of her Masters of Research. Much of her work involves animal models of disease and this work has inspired in her a great respect for research animals and their contribution to science.

    Having always loved taxidermy, Roshana was very eager to learn but was unsure where to turn to acquire the necessary skills. She stumbled across a Rest in Pieces class being held in Sydney and soon found herself travelling to Melbourne regularly to attend more classes. After volunteering to assist at several of the Sydney classes, Roshana joins the team in 2020 as our dedicated Sydney based teacher and assistant.

    Josh Thomas

    Fermenter, Farmer & Educator

    Josh began his culinary journey as a Cheesemaker in 1999 under the tutelage of his uncle Richard Thomas, regarded as the pioneer of specialty cheese in Australia. This sparked his passion for all things fermentation. From sourdough to charcuterie, he ravenously devoured every piece of information he could on the subject. He now focusses on utilising traditional methods to create hospitable environments for beneficial bacteria to thrive.

    Initially Josh came to work with the Rest In Pieces team in 2016 as a caterer for workshops and it quickly became evident that there was a synergy between fermentation and taxidermy, respectfully transforming the death of an animal into an art that lives on.

    Since returning to the rolling hills of Rivendell, East Gippsland, in 2017 he has been creating memories instead of just food. His business La Matanza specialises in culinary experiences that celebrate the connection to the harvest and to the sacrifice. Recent collaborations have yielded such experiences as an homage to the forgotten parts of cattle in ‘Thine Divine Bovine’ and saving stale bread to produce the first Sourdough Saison with Blizzard Brewery.

    Naturally, we have some rather elaborate things planned for our first collaboration with Josh and La Matanza in 2020, titled ‘Meet your Meat’. Definitely not to be missed!

    Instagram: @lamatanza @rivendelleastgippsland

    Kate Bastow

    Project Manager

    Kate discovered Rest in Pieces after attending the Rat Taxidermy workshop as a student. She was instantly drawn into the RIP community, embracing its culture of education and open dialogue around the dying arts. She joined the Rest in Pieces volunteer group to further expand her learning and interest in animal anatomy, going on to assist at a variety of our workshops.

    Kate joined the team in 2019 to oversee the ongoing development of an exciting new range of workshops, events and services coming to the Rest in Pieces community in the near future and beyond.

    Karen Richardson

    Assistant & After Care Technician

    Karen discovered Rest in Pieces whilst emptying her bucket list. She enrolled in a rat class but took to taxidermy like a fish to water and was soon volunteering at every opportunity, soaking up every new skill that came her way.

    Karen loves animals and was immediately drawn to the idea of pet preservation. Due to the combination of anatomy, science and art all drawn together with sensitivity, attention to detail and respect.

    She joins the team in 2020 as our after care technician and will be in charge of memorialising your beloved pets.

    Melanie Page

    ASSISTANT & pHOTOGRAPHER

    After completing a Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts in Hobart, Melanie was so set on learning taxidermy she nearly flew to the US to find a teacher. Instead, at last minute, she found Rest in Pieces and flew to Melbourne instead. With that first class, her love of the dying arts blossomed along with her passion for preserving the beauty of all lifeforms in perpetuity.  

    Shortly thereafter Melanie moved to Melbourne and continued taking Rest in Pieces classes, building on her skill set by volunteering. She is now a permanent fixture at Rest in Pieces, joining the team as class assistant and photographer. In 2019, she travelled to Indonesia with Natalie to learn about the Torajan death culture and rituals from which, a project will be developed in 2020.

    Caroline Szalay

    Assistant

    Caro is an enigma, queer kid, and mother of rats with "Curious" literally tattooed on their head. Caro's interest in bones, bodies and the art of biology - in a by-gone-breaths sort of way - meant they were quickly smitten with Rest in Pieces and saw them eagerly pouring through the front door, both as a student and volunteer. An itchy soul, Caro's recent resume is one of beekeeping, axe-throwing, and bookstore clerking but their main focus now is on their Auslan (Australian Sign Language) studies. Caro's passion for accessibility and allyship underscores their contribution to RIP, as we work to diversify the conversation about, and the future of, the dying arts.

    Robyn Austin

    Taxidermist & Assistant

    Robyn has spent her life making things. She’s a trained chef, restauranteur, artist, avid gardener, leadlight window maker and taxidermist.

    Her taxidermy journey began 6 years when she saw a fox get hit by a car. Rather than let it go to waste, she managed to skin the fox and teach herself to tan it, transforming it into a luxurious scarf.

    This first venture piqued her curiosity and eventually saw her attending her first Rest in Pieces class. She’s since more-or-less completed the whole curriculum, become a regular volunteer and even found a taxidermy mentor of her own, closer to home.

    Robyn joins the team to assist any workshops held in the greater Sydney region.

    Madison Mayfield

    Scientific Illustrator & Taxidermist

    Madison is a trained scientific illustrator who has been working in natural history museum collections for the past four years. She believes illustration is one of the best tools available for clearer science communication but also strongly emphasises the importance of art in a very STEM-focused world. In 2016, she moved from the United States to Brisbane where she was lucky enough to meet Alison Douglas, senior taxidermist at the Queensland Museum and has been learning and practicing taxidermy under her training ever since.

    Madison first met Nat and the Rest In Pieces team in early 2019 when they asked her to perform a quick taxidermy demo as part of the RIP presentation, "Past, Present and Future of Taxidermy”, held in Brisbane. Since then Madison has created several illustrations for Rest In Pieces and joins the team in 2020 as the official team Illustrator.

    Zoe Rosen

    Assistant

    Zoe is a cultural and evolutionary behavioural anthropologist, graduating in 2013 from Macquarie University, Sydney. Her previous career highlights include the discovery of the largest catchment of early hominid fossils in the original Rising Star Expedition, in conjunction with Witwatersrand University Johannesburg and National Geographic, Homo Naledi in 2013-14.

    Zoe’s interest in conservation and passion for learning saw her taking several of RIP’s classes both in Sydney and in Melbourne.

    She has recently been accepted into a Master’s program for research at University of Technology Sydney and comes on board in 2020 as an assistant to the RIP Sydney branch.