Julia deVille ‘Cineraria’ @ Sophie Gannon Gallery

3 08 2009

Cineraria‘ is defined as “a place for depositing the ashes of the dead after cremation“; and in this exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Julia deVille has combined her skills of taxidermy and metalworking to amazing effect.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Until seeing this exhibition, I have been a little conflicted by Julia’s art – I appreciated and respected it, but didn’t feel it was something I understood or wanted to have near me. So I was quite taken aback by my reaction to this exhibition – I think I liked it; I was intrigued and fascinated but not disgusted, as I feared I may be. I walked around the room and could almost feel the love Julia has for these dead animals – for the care she has taken in preserving and accentuating their beauty is exceptional and must have been so time-consuming.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

The exhibition is not wholly taxidermy, though there is quite a lot of it – birds, a piglet, a puppy, and rabbits with metal components. There are also beautiful wood urns (above; the one on the right is just beautiful). And the most amazing piece to me is the entirely silver rook skeleton with a ruby-studded heart (detail below).

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

The Sophie Gannon Gallery site has very beautiful images of the major pieces in the exhibition (though as it is on their ‘main’ page, I am not sure how long these images will remain at this link).

There is also a collection of Julia’s jewellery, accompanied by the most voluptuous (is it wrong to use that adjective in this context?) little urns (if only I could take one home!).

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

This exhibition has also been reviewed by Grey Aviary, Victoria Mason (I love her term ‘art-crush’!) and LaydeeJ.

Julia deVille ‘Cineraria‘ is at Sophie Gannon Gallery from 29th July to 22nd August 2009.

Update (16th August): Marcus at ArtBlart has also reviewed this show [here]. I admire his critical eye and am interested in his point of view and his fearless expression. I also thought that the elements with the piglet didn’t quite feel ‘right’, I didn’t like the cat nor understood the relation of the flocked cow skull to the other works, and the birds genuinely freaked me out a bit – but at the time I put those reactions down to my expectation of not embracing the taxidermy at all in the first place. However because my overall sense was essentially my surprise that I didn’t dislike all of the work (as I feared I may, for dead things do freak me out!), I wrote about that experience and omitted the bits I wasn’t too sure about. That said though, I do think a specific and respectful critique is always valuable to makers and viewers, and other writers. I’ve learnt something today about courage in writing and taking the time to explore all the facets of the exhibition and one’s reaction; but courage must be complemented by knowledge and vocabulary and practice – here’s to more insightful writing (from me, Marcus already seems pretty good at it)!



4 responses

16 08 2009

Hi Karen
Thank you for your kind words – I think your writing is pretty good as well!
With my writing I try to be as positive as possible – if you can’t say something good don’t say it at all – the old adage is appropriate.
That said, being insightful and thoughtful about the work presented can lead to text(ural) revelations – for the writer, the artist and the viewer.

16 08 2009

Hi Marcus
What a lightning-speed comment! Thank you for the compliment…
I agree with you completely, especially on there being no sense in writing something nebulously negative without any insightful response, which can often be more valuable to an artist than effusive coddling. The important finding for me is that your review clearly identified and expressed what was only a vague uncertainty in my mind and which I hadn’t quite been able to put into words – it sometimes feels weird when someone else crystallises your thoughts better than you can, and that’s the value of discourse!
Happy writing.

22 12 2009
Kas McMahon

love her work

16 08 2010
Julia deVille ‘Night’s Plutonian Shore’ @ Sophie Gannon Gallery « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] her new exhibition at the same gallery she showed ‘Cineraria‘ this time last year [see my review last year]. The new exhibition is titled ‘Night’s Plutonian Shore‘; and it also features […]

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