Filmmaker Ken Russell’s daughter launches line in animal coffins

The daughter of the late Ken Russell has launched a new line in life-size coffins made especially for animals like giraffes, crocodiles and snakes.

Molly Russell’s quirky collection entitled Dearly Departed also contains resting places for turbots, Meer cats and anteaters.

It was inspired by her extraordinary family upbringing and relationship with her famous flamboyant film-maker father, who was best known for his Oscar-wining film Women In Love, and who died of natural causes last year aged 84.

During Molly’s childhood her home was populated by guinea pigs, chickens, rabbits, birds, hamsters and dogs, and her family took the tendency to treat animals on human terms to extremes.

A sick dove would rest in bed, mice would eat fresh avocado for supper, and a rabbit was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“It was madness,” said Molly, “but a madness that was full of joy.”

Molly developed a phobia of death aged six, after watching her father’s film Mahler, a biography of the composer Gustav Mahler, whose notorious funeral scene shows a window in the coffin looking through to the silently screaming face behind it as he is burned alive.

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However through the exhibition she has found a way to combat her dreaded fears.

“Before my father and grandfather both died last year, I had only ever been to animal funerals,” said Molly, who lives in London Fields.

“The joy I’ve brought to the coffins was a way of dealing with these dark and fearful feelings I’d had.”

She collaborated with Tyne and Wear coffin-makers JC Atkinson for the exhibition, which launched last week at the Arch402 Gallery in Cremer Street, Hoxton.