Molly Russell's childhood was populated by hundreds of guinea pigs, chickens, rabbits, birds, hamsters and dogs. It was a world where the tendency to treat animals on human terms had been taken to extremes, as the ultimate in domestication; a sick dove resting in bed, mice eating fresh avocado for supper, a rabbit given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
This extravagant and joyful indulgence into the care of wildlife creatures soon turned to fear, as Molly’s experiences with animals and wider life became increasingly touched by death. A key turning point in Molly’s childhood came when she was six years old, and she saw her father’s film ‘Mahler’. Its notorious funeral scene left an indelible impression on her young mind; the window in the coffin and the composer’s silently screaming face behind it, being burned alive. As she grew older, these nightmares turned into more intense phobias, focussed particularly around the two fears that she had inherited from her father, of snakes and death.
"Before my father and grandfather both died last year," Molly recalls, "I had only ever been to animal funerals... The joy I’ve brought to the coffins was a way of dealing with these dark and fearful feelings I’d had. I was able to transform the darkness and morbidity into a playful, creative expression of fun and joy".