Wild competition

Ben Carillo with his award-winning Cuttlefish, which took two years to finish.

By Derek Schlennstedt

As part of the Australian Taxidermy Championships dozens of people descended on The York in Lilydale over the weekend to see animals brought back to life through the impressive art of taxidermy.
And of course, the range of exotic and native life-like creatures, created by the hands of dedicated taxidermists certainly didn’t fail to impress.
From Cuttlefish to koalas and even a peregrine falcon, every animal had been painstakingly brought back to life through dainty hands, keen eyes and long hours of workmanship.
This year, over 90 animals were displayed and the competition was closer than ever.
David Jacobs, from Queenstown was judging the Junior’s and Novice division and said the quality was some of the best he’d seen as well as the age range of people entering the competition..
“The standard is world class,” Mr Jacobs said.
“The youngest contestant I judged here was eight years old, and the oldest I think is in his seventies, which is great to see.”
While much of the three day competition sees judges giving competitors advice, one individual who definitely knew what he was doing was Ben Carillo, who took out the Best in Master’s for his Cuttlefish, as well as receiving the Artisans Award for his Leafy Sea Dragon- which included 182 separate pieces.
“Mine is a fibreglass reproduction, so what I do is actually take a mould of the specimen and then I make it out of fibreglass.”
“The hardest part is painting and seaming it all up and trying to make it look realistic again … the Leafy Sea Dragon took ten weeks to do, and the Cuttlefish has been a process of two years.”
Dennis and Dianne Grundy, organisers of the event, said that each year the competition grows from strength to strength and that this was one of the biggest and toughest competitions so far.
“It’s turned out fantastic, there are some really beautiful and exciting displays, showing emotion and movement,” Mr Grundy said.
The art form in here is just magic.