05
Aug
10

Julia deVille & William Llewellyn Griffiths @ Sophie Gannon Gallery

Julia Deville 02Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dear Diary,

The images of animals and skulls have occupied an important place in the annals of international art history since the times immemorial. Their popularity in the avant-garde waxed and waned with the dictates of aesthetic, theoretic, as well as fashionable concerns. If we were to cast our eyes on Australian art scene around the mid- to late 1990s, we would probably find only two protagonists championing mammals and bones in their art. Louise Weaver crafted her wonderful creations based on Australian fauna, and Ricky Swallow famously reshaped brand-new, neon-coloured Apple Computers into death skulls in 2000-2001.

Fast-forward to the present, and one can hardly turn around without encountering yet another artist featuring either animals or skulls in their work; or seeing yet another gallery mounting a full-scale exhibition on this genre.

Julia Deville 03This brings me to the current display of works by Julia deVille and William Llewellyn Griffiths at the Sophie Gannon Gallery in Albert Street, Richmond.

In the exhibition, the macabre meets high camp. It is the Disney version of The Interview with the Vampire on crack; it is Prince Louis-Albert de Broglie gone mad with a Bedazzler at his famous Deyrolle taxidermy emporium in Paris [… not to mention a close homophonic connection between one of the artist’s surnames and a famous character from 101 Dalmatians].

Julia deVille’s exhibition features a veritable zoological menagerie of staffed animals – beautifully preserved fawns, kittens, piglets, pigeons – all encrusted with jewels and rhinestones, some sporting feathered accessories, jewelled saddles, and even a scale model of a most sumptuously decorated Victorian hearse. [Price range, according to size: $1,900-$39,000]

William Llewellyn GriffithsWilliam Llewellyn Griffiths continues this macabre theatre with his skulls likewise decorated with jewels, feathered headdresses and extravagant spectacles worthy of Dame Edna. There is even an exquisite carving of a miniature human skull in cubic zirconium [price range: $4,500-$8,500]. However, among some of the most remarkable creations by this jeweller-cum-artist-cum-sculptor are theatrical dioramas of mice circuses, where the mice dance, juggle, balance on trapeze, and even act as ring masters, complete in black domino and with a whip, to the skeleton of a kitten riding around on a miniature tricycle [price range: $12,000-$35,000].

I shall not venture to intellectualise this spectacle, but enjoy it as a pure visual phenomenon of the macabre and high camp!

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgement.]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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