Burringbar artists Linelle Stepto has used cane toad skins in some of her work.
Burringbar artists Linelle Stepto has used cane toad skins in some of her work.

Toads used for art

WHAT most people call road kill, Linelle Stepto envisions as art.

Burringbar artist has created an entire floral display, including roses and waratahs, from the skin of cane toads.The "I’m recycling pests," Mrs Stepto said.

Her exhibition, American Beauty, explores the colonisation of the nation by American pop culture.

"I’m making iconic native flora out of the skins of introduced species," the environmentalist said.

"It’s a warning about the dangers of ignoring our native environment."

Mrs Stepto’s innovative artworks not only rid the environment of an invasive pest but they also make beautiful works of arts.

"I’m communicating an idea but at the same time using up a pest."

The visual arts teacher at Murwillumbah TAFE was introduced to skinning by a fellow teacher about four years ago.

"I collected road kill and taught myself how to do it," Mrs Stepto said.

"It’s an extremely messy process and totally awful."

She now orders the skins from a website based in Cairns.

"Cane toad skins make quite beautiful leather," she said.

"It can take more than 40 skins to create one floral display, and a month to design and complete."

The former wildlife carer works in other skins as well, including feral cat.

"I’m really interested in how skin is a metaphor for identity."

Mrs Stepto works out of a home studio on her property at Burringbar.

"My husband and two boys think I’m totally mad," she said.

"People are always amazed when they see my works and at first they don’t believe me."

However, Mrs Stepto never has a problem selling them, having sold everything she has ever made.

Mrs Stepto’s environmental works will be displayed at the Textile Art Festival, to be held in Brisbane from May 29 to 31, as part of The Art of Recycling competition.

The competition guidelines were to create an artwork made predominantly from textiles and recycled materials.

The competition carries a $2000 prize pool.



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