The Bone Art Project

I’ve been very excited about this side project since the beginning of LEAP. The purpose of our project is to decompose dead animals and collect the bones for Art and Science purposes. So far, we have about fourteen dead animals (most of them are small birds) buried in our school garden and now we’re still trying to get a couple more dead animals (other than birds) so we have a variety of animals in our bone collection. As I already mentioned in my previous blog post, our LEAP team went on a trip to Denpasar and stopped at the bird market to collect bird carcases. Luck was on our side; we collected ten dead birds and buried them once we arrived at school.

The Bone Art team in the burial site

The next step was to get carcases of other animals: dogs, cats, snakes, anything other than birds. So we started the second step of this small project by calling zoos in Bali and other places that might have dead animals such as Monkey Forest, Villa Kitty, and we made a list of phone numbers that we could contact. We tried to call most of the numbers on our list, but unfortunately, we were unable to reach them. Some of them did answer, but they refused to give their dead animals because it’s against their policy and we need to get some sort of licence in order to get the dead animals. It was quite frustrating trying to convince them to donate their animal carcases especially when you’re a high school student (they don’t take you seriously). One of the places thought it was a prank call so they hung up on us.

Ron Lilley

We did a terrible job at communicating on the phone and one of our teachers told us that he’s gonna cancel the project if we can’t collect dead animals within a week because takes a while for the bodies to decompose and we were running out of time. We got pretty disappointed and almost gave up on the project, but our last phone call saved our project from being cancelled. The last number on our list was Ron Lilley’s, the snake man. He is a well-known snake expert in Bali. One of my friends, Will Vovers had a nice conversation with Ron Lilley on the phone and explained our project to him and guess what? He had a frozen python that he kept in his fridge. He invited us to come to his house on Friday to talk about the project and get the frozen snake. We went there, he showed us his snake collection, got the frozen Python, and went back to school with smiles on our faces.

So we had a frozen snake in the freezer and dead birds buried in our school garden. But I thought it wasn’t enough. I decided to get a cow’s head from the market and luckily my mum has a friend who owns a slaughterhouse. My mum ordered it for me. It was already skinned to the bone (it still has a little bit of meat on it) and they hacked off the skull cap to get the brain out, but we could still glue it back on. Everything is perfect, the teeth, the jaw, the horns; they are still in perfect condition. I also ordered a pig’s head which (hopefully) I’m gonna get tomorrow on Monday.

On the third week of LEAP, it was Tuesday, and I came to school with a cow’s head that I carried in a plastic bag. I felt pretty nervous and I’m not sure if it was because of the cow’s head or the fact that I was carrying a big red plastic bag to Green School. Anyways, I dug a hole deep enough to fit the cow’s head and buried it. I wasn’t wearing gloves and I couldn’t get rid of the smell off my hands. But it wasn’t as bad as the frozen python. It was awful. The python’s smell stuck in my nose for the rest of the day and it totally ruined my appetite. We buried the snake on the same day as we buried the cow’s head. But before we did it, we skinned the snake (we tried) to speed up the decomposition process. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Skinning a snake (or skinning animals in general) requires a lot of patience and skills. It took me about an hour and a half to skin the head. We didn’t skin the whole thing because it was way too hard for us to do. Not until the next day did I realise that touching dead animals without using gloves was a bad idea. I got sick the next day because I didn’t wash my hands properly. I was lucky enough to not get something serious. At the end of the day, we had a total of fourteen carcases decomposing in our school garden. Now we just have to wait for a couple weeks and I can’t wait to dig them up!