Julia deVille is a New Zealand born and Melbourne (Australia) based taxidermy artist, jeweller, and animal activist. “Driven by a strong commitment to animal rights, deVille’s sculptural assemblages belie the heroic, trophy-hunting culture associated with mounting dead animals. In a form of gentle protest she combines precious gems and metals with antique ‘ready-mades’ to challenge our disregard for and consumption of both wild and domesticated fauna.” ~ J. deVille Facebook page.
Her opulent creations – formed from old, new, salvaged objects and recycled animals, as well as precious metals and gems – are fueled by her fascination with the memento mori (objects serving as a warning or reminder of death) tradition of the 15th – 18th centuries and Victorian mourning jewelry. deVille’s solo exhibition ‘Phantasmagoria’ is showing at Sophie Gannon Gallery, 2 Albert St, Richmond VIC 3121 until 11 October, drop in and see Julia’s fascination with life and death expressed in exquisite fragile beauty.
At first glance, this exhibition might seem like a re-creation of a Victorian child’s bedroom and nursery. However, upon closer inspection, we notice the surreal nature of deVille’s installation. What might look like a child’s rocking horse from afar is actually a taxidermy stillborn alpaca adorned with sterling silver, 18k white gold, antique pearls, chain mail, ostrich feathers and cockerel feathers. And, above the Victorian cast iron crib, the baby’s mobile was created from taxidermy birds and ethically sourced animal hearts that are adorned with rose cut black diamonds 1.68ct, rubies 7.6ct, rose cut diamonds 4ct, sterling silver, and gold plate. We would expect to find a child crying in the crib, however in its stead we discover a crying adolescent deer, beautifully adorned with rubies and precious metal, making the entire installation the artist’s self portrait, a realisation of deVille’s ideal dream room. In the artists experience, “…as a child of three or four years, taxidermy and death interested me. I remember sitting in a wardrobe with my grandmother’s fox stoles with their heads, feet and tails. I felt they could come to life when I wasn’t watching”.
“This bewildering experience might be likened to a drama combining the Victorian novels of Alice in Wonderland and Dracula.” ~ Robert Reason, catalog entry, 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Dark Heart, AGSA, 2014
More information about the exhibition is available on Sophie Gannon Gallery’s website.
Julia’s jewellery is produced under the label Disce Mori (Learn to Die) and can be found via her Facebook and Instagram accounts.