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The Way I Live with Polly Morgan

We sat down and had a chat with sculpture artist, Polly Morgan.Her innovative approach on taxidermy has seen her works displayed at some of the most prestigious galleries. In addition to her illustrious career, she is also a dedicated runner who has run across the African desert. We spoke to her about how she manages her health, career and family life.

What is your morning routine and what part do you enjoy the most?
I have two boys under three so mornings tend to kick off at around 6.30 am when they both need milk and clothing. I grab a bowl of cereal and an espresso on the move usually. My eldest is in the nursery by 8:00 am and I then walk the dogs and finally get to my desk at around 9:30 am. I make another espresso then sit at my desk. This is my favourite time as I'm fully awake and have a little peace to finally think.

When are you most energised in the day?
Between 8 am and early afternoon are my most productive hours. I have a slump at 3 pm and once the children are in bed at 7 pm, I have a couple of hours left in me before an early night.

How do you maintain balance in your physical health?
I try to run whenever I can. Before I had children I would run 6 miles every morning with my dogs, and be at work by 9 am feeling like I could do anything. These days I'm lucky if I manage to run that far in a week, but when I do it's like a bath for my brain.

You’re an enthusiastic runner, having run across the African desert, how do you manage to maintain your fitness?
With difficulty at the moment as it's hard to find the time but I try not to worry about it, as it always amazes me how fast I can get back into running after an extended break. Having dogs helps as I walk them regularly and I find even doing that helps me maintain a base level of fitness.

How do you preserve your sanity and health during the week?
I prioritise sleep pretty highly. If I've slept well I can face any challenge, conversely with little sleep I break down at the smallest thing. I'm lucky to have a partner who helps with the children as much as he can so I sometimes take afternoon naps or go back to bed before starting work in the morning.

You've recently moved partially to the countryside, City and Rural have their benefits, where are you happiest?
I get a different sort of happiness from each, they compliment each other. In the city I feel plugged into the mains and get the adrenaline buzz I need from work. In the country I get total peace and can spend uninterrupted time with my children. I think I'm the sort of person who needs both to feel happy.

Where do you feel most at ease?
The kitchen. I love being in the studio but I'm rarely at ease as I have so many decisions to make. I find preparing and cooking food so relaxing and rewarding as the outcome is almost immediate. I love all the little rituals, even the cleaning of pots and pans help me unwind.

What is your weekend food indulgence?
Every Saturday morning I go to the most amazing farmers market in Stroud. I start at the top of the hill with beautiful views of the valley and work my way down, stocking up on everything from Raclette to organic meat, fish and cheese. I never found time to do this sort of thing in London and would get into repetitive food habits. I'm much more adventurous with my cooking in the country as it's an inspiring setting in which to shop. We indulge in everything, we'll never be a restrained family.

How does your work nourish you?
Like running, I feel it keeps me emotionally balanced. Whenever I have been unable to work I have noticed paranoia and self- doubt creeping back. I'm lucky to never have suffered from mental health issues but my father did and I get very low self esteem if I'm not careful. I believe that exercising and having a job I love have helped keep me sane. I do miss the companionship of colleagues though, and am always looking for ways to work alongside others as I don't think protracted time alone has ever done me any good.

Onto some quick fire questions:

Coffee or tea?

What’s your favourite meal?
Too many, but I love asian food and often make crunchy prawn and papaya salad. Anything with fish sauce in will have me reaching for more.

Music that makes you at ease?
I don't listen to music to put me at ease, I prefer silence. Loud Roxy Music or pop (preferably Swedish!) if I want to sing and dance.

How often do you digitally detox?
Never entirely. But at the weekends I often don't know where my phone is for long periods which is a mini-detox for me.

Silence or noise?

Who are your role models and how do they inspire you?
They tend to be the unsung women no-one will have heard of. People like my mother or hardworking friends who shelve their egos, so they can provide stability for their families. I would say they humble me, more than inspire me as I'll never be quite like them.

How do you relax during the day?
Reading to my children, or cooking.

What was the last book you read that inspired you?
Matthew Walker's book Why we Sleep changed my life in that it made me realise how daft it is to think we can override sleep. His message was so simple and obvious but I'd lost sight of it after my first child and by at least aiming for 8 hours sleep, I have definitely become calmer and more productive in my waking hours.

Are there any health tips you live by?
Don't fight tiredness, you'll lose.

What inspires you?
Art, architecture, popular culture, younger people, older people, just about anything if I pay full attention.

What is your personal motto?
I've always felt that if something scares me, it's probably a good idea to do it.

See more of her work and learn more about her at her website or on our Instagram, where you can find our full conversation with her.

Written by:
Brendan Murdock,

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