By MATTHEW MCKEW
There’s a new experience in Queenstown and it’s a ‘wunderkammer’, or wonder chamber, for observing the natural world.
Church Street’s Flora Fauna’s a new gallery/store featuring everything from floristry to taxidermy.
Owner Meredith Parkin, a former art teacher, has gone for a vibrant layout with birdsong
‘‘It’s not dusty or creepy, I am quite specific about the art and taxidermy I get a hold of, because a lot of it can be awful to look at.
‘‘But, I try to source stuff that looks friendly and alive.
‘‘People do sometimes find it hard to understand how you can find beauty in a dead thing, but I want a place that promotes awe and wonder.’’
Parkin’s inspired by the Wunderkammer of the 15th century, where German explorers would display their finds from travelling overseas.
Part of the adventure at Flora Fauna is discovering what’s for sale and what’s not.
‘‘It’s funny, the stuff that isn’t for sale people keep asking about and I have to come up with ridiculous prices, because I don’t want to sell them.’’
The fascination with nature stemmed from an adventurous childhood, when she’d discovered bones and natural leaf skeletons.
She believes taxidermy offers a personal experience that can otherwise be hard to come across.
‘‘I know they are dead, but how often do you get to touch a pheasant or look at a tiny deer?’’
Parkin knows it isn’t for everyone, but says she takes care to ensure her displays are ethically sourced and reflect the beauty of the beasts.
One piece that catches the eye is a young fawn, preserved and decorated by artist Julia deVille — a vegan and animal rights advocate from the North Island.
Opening a store’s been a long-held dream, but it was a holiday to Queenstown after lockdown that finally provided the impetus to quit her day job.
‘‘After Covid we came down for a holiday and thought, ‘why the hell are we not living here?’
‘‘Queenstown has natural beauty, everyone loves the outdoors and so it’s the right place to be.’’