Born 1945 Lincolnshire, England
Wendy Taylor is known for her site-specific public sculptures that range in form and subject from large-scale abstract to anatomically specific depictions of animals. Educated at St Martin’s School of Art (1962–7) but growing up in East London, she was one of the few female students from a working-class background studying there at the time. Since 1981 Taylor has largely avoided commercial representation in favour of public commissions. This unconventional decision has contributed to her reputation as one of the first artists of her generation to ‘take art out of the galleries and into the streets’. Instead, her roster of over seventy site-specific works are designed for the public. Taylor has developed this sense of public duty through her involvement in urban development projects, such as through her role as Design Consultant for the Basildon Development Corporation in Essex (1985–8). The themes of play and illusion are apparent in her oeuvre, with some of her sculptures appearing to commit gravity-defying acts.
Three Dung Beetles (2000) sit at the bottom of one of the spiral staircases at Murray Edwards College, to be peered down upon by the unsuspecting visitor to The Women’s Art Collection. This bizarre arrangement resonates with the element of play detected in other works by sculptor Wendy Taylor. As a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society, the artist takes a keen interest in the animal world, and the anatomical specificity of the dung beetles can be interpreted in light of the hyper-realistic drawings of animals produced by Taylor over the course of her career. Another set of dung beetle sculptures by Taylor can also be spotted at the London Zoo.
Three Dung Beetles featured in a local Cambridgeshire newspaper in 2007 after students at Murray Edwards (then New Hall) were fined for causing damage worth £1,000 to the sculpture. Students dropped one beetle down a flight of stairs during a formal dinner, causing significant scratching and the loss of an antenna.