You can learn a lot about a person through their hobbies. Many people love travel and art, but pair that with taxidermy and a penchant for collecting skulls, teeth and bones, and you’re bound to have no shortage of dinner conversation.
Hairstylist and photographer Meghan Kinita brings it all together in the West End home she shares with her husband, David, as well as many stuffed critters including a fox, duck, birds and alligator (currently hiding in the basement).
“The really cool stuff - like the two-headed stuff - it’s really hard to come by and you’re not going to get it here,” Kinita says. “I like to collect teeth and bones, because they’re just as cool, and if you get enough of them going, they make a little display. And it’s like recycling.”
Kinita’s two rescue cats, Archie Valentino and Vincent Price are very much at home among the remnants of other animals (though Archie is always skittish around guests, don’t take it personally).
Despite the potentially morbid menagerie and living room “Wall of Death,” Kinita’s space is cheery, well-decorated, and filled with a clear support for the arts. While she’s been a photographer for 20 years, Kinita found that her work really improved in the last 5 years. In the last year she started selling prints and created her own website (meghankinita.com).
A few of her pieces hang on the walls, but Kinita’s more interested in talking about her friends. “I’m more interested in buying other people’s work lately,” she admits, and as she tours us through her collection, there’s no shortage of kind and honest praise.
The main floor is almost a mini-gallery of sorts, though one that’s friendly to four-year-old nieces and nephews who come by to visit Kinita and ‘le renard’. Just when I think we’ve seen it all, a smile creeps across Kinita’s face. “Come upstairs, I’ll show you one of my favourite things.”
1) Wall of Death
It grew from Kinita’s fascination with skulls and an urge to have some black and white among all the colour in her house. She highlights work by Lennard Taylor, Jade Rennie-Harper and Ryan Poworoznick, as well as a hand-cut horseshoe she collected while hiking the salkantay trek last fall: “So it’s not all death. Some of it you did survive.”
2) Fox (& Archie Valentino)
“I actually carried that home on the bus from Antiques and Funk one year.” Kinita explains “So it’s a little worse for wear, the ears are a little ridiculous, they’re a little moulty.” The fox is still mobile though. “It kind of moves around the house a little bit. It was in the back room for a while, but I recently decided to do a little bit of pottery and that’s not really a good place for a fox, or any taxidermy for that matter.”
3) Rainbow Dream Cloud (& Vincent Price)
“My friend Sidney [Krause] in Montreal actually makes these,” Kinita says. “I don’t know if it’s just like a beacon on our street for weird people to come knocking on our door. I’m always like, ‘oh god, I left the rainbow dream cloud on.’”
4) Kitchen Squirrel
“Every once in a while I think I should brush him off, dust him a little bit.”
5) Portrait of Kinita’s Dad by Justine Barry
“She painted off someone’s screenshot of someone photographing my dad’s passport when I wasn’t looking. ... And then they surprised me on my birthday a few years ago.”
6) Fireplace of National Geographics
“This is my late dad’s collection of National Geographics. My father was an adventurer and traveller and lover of all things related to nature, and grew up really poor in a small town, and this was it for him for a while.... He did a lot of traveling as he got older,” Kinita shares. “I don’t even love the colour yellow that much, but I love these.”
7) 1925 National Geographic
“This is probably one of my oldest ones here...almost 100 years old,” Kinita says as she flips the delicate pages. “Some of the photography ... it’s unedited. People still had to do stuff by hand. Other than that - the photography’s amazing - but imagine being an adventurer in those times!”