Death: an inevitable symptom of living that is generally synonymous with darkness. For Julia deVille, death is pervading, but the Melbourne based jeweler and taxidermist is emphasising the beauty of life in relation to its end rather than the standard gruesome morbidity we’ve come to relate with passing on. From the immortalisation of baby animals like kittens and deer with sparkling jewels in their eyes to the moulding of gold and silver in the delicate nuances of turtledove bones, Julia deVille’s work is a celebration of even the shortest breath taken.
With exhibitions in both London and Paris, Julia deVille’s transcontinental journey has popularised her unique artwork and set her unfaltering vision apart from other jewelers. Dazed Digital talks with the blossoming artist about the inherent exquisiteness of transience, reconciling veganism with taxidermy, and her long awaited New York minute…
Dazed Digital: What is it exactly that you do?
Julia deVille: I am a taxidermist and jeweller by trade. Originally I started out making jewellery using small taxidermy animals and now I have moved onto making larger sculptures from taxidermy animals, decorated with jewellery.
DD: How did you come to combine jewellery making with taxidermy?
Julia deVille: I started learning taxidermy and jewellery making at the same time so it was natural to combine the two.
DD: What kinds of animals do you use and where do they come from?
Julia deVille: I use a lot of small birds and mice and recently I have been using larger animals like still born deer, cats, piglets and a goose. All animals have died of natural causes. I find a lot of the birds and mice myself and the farm animals are all stillborns that farmers donate to me. I also have a lot of friends and strangers donating pets and other animals that they find.
DD: What kind of reception does your work normally receive?
Julia deVille: Generally very positive. I am a vegetarian (basically vegan) and an animal rights activist. I am extremely vocal about my position, which helps people to appreciate the beauty in what I do instead of getting upset over the method of sourcing animals. I get a lot of people telling me they didn't like the idea of my work when they heard about it, but after seeing it they find them to be very peaceful and beautiful.
DD: What message are you trying to convey through your work?
Julia deVille: My work is as much about life as it is about death. I use the medium of taxidermy as a memento mori, or reminder of mortality. I believe if the viewer can be reminded of the fleeting nature of life by being confronted with death, they can in turn appreciate the significance of life.
DD: Where do you find inspiration?
Julia deVille: I am inspired by nature, history, life and death.
DD: Tell us about your London and Paris exhibitions.
Julia deVille: I had a small exhibition (part of my larger show, Night's Plutonian Shore, which was held at my gallery Sophie Gannon Gallery, earlier this year) at the Shoreditch Aesop in London and the St Germain Aesop in Paris. Due to the size and fragility of the work I could only bring eight out of thirty works - but they were all the most popular pieces from the exhibition.
DD: What's next on the cards?
Julia deVille: I am looking to move to New York next year with my husband to try and break into the American art market. I will continue to exhibit my art works with my gallery in Melbourne, Sophie Gannon Gallery and produce my jewellery line, DISCE MORI.