In the art of taxidermy gesture is paramount, hence for sculptor Julia deVille the most considered aspect of creation is composing her subjects to find a balance between pathos, humour and dignified realism.
Arriving in Australia from New Zealand on the cusp of adulthood, deVille trained as a jeweller and learned further crafting skills studying shoe design before her long hunt for a taxidermy mentorship was successful. 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.
Drawing on Renaissance, Baroque and Victorian art and ideas, deVille creates contemporary ‘memento mori’ that raise our curiosity through the use of paradoxical processes and materials. While all deVille’s creatures have died a natural death, they live on as beautiful and compelling allegories, begging a reflection on our symbiotic but decidedly unequal relationship with the animal world and our cavalier disregard for mortality in general.
Commissioned by Hobart’s MONA to create a permanent installation in 2011, deVille also won the City of Hobart Art Prize in 2012. She has taken out the People’s Choice Award in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize twice, and in 2006 her work was included in the MCA’s important Primavera survey exhibition. deVille won the 2016 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize and her work was acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in 2012. She exhibits regularly in Australia and overseas.
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