Posts Tagged ‘taxidermy


Day 327: Michelle Molinari and Georgie Mattingley

Michelle Molinari 1

Michelle Molinari 2

Day 327: Mortality Observed, by Michelle Molinari

Some of the VCA students explore in their works the ever popular subject matter of animals in art – although in our day and age it has progressed far beyond the tableaux of such Old Masters of the genre as Jacob Jordaens, Melchior d’Hondecoeter or Rosa Bonheur. The way in which Michelle Molinari approaches taxidermy, for example, brings to mind Joseph Kosuth and his famous installations of a chair, a photo of the chair, and a copy of the dictionary definition of the chair.

The majority of Australian artists who are focusing on taxidermy in their oeuvre usually work within a single media – be it sculpture, painting, or photography. Molinari, on the other hand, works across various media by presenting within a single space taxidermy installations of animals, which are accompanied by paintings and lithographs that are derived from – or inspired by – these installations. Her painting technique is superb and meticulous; the ability to convey the textures of soft fabrics, cold glass domes, fox fur and bird feathers are outstanding. Accompanying lithographs show that Molinari can successfully convey the sensation of differing tactile textures across a number of mediums with great precision and accuracy.

Georgie Mattingley 1

Georgie Mattingley 2

Day 327 bis: White Anaesthesia, by Georgie Mattingley

Georgie Mattingley’s three channel video White Anaesthesia is truly mesmerising to behold. A white cat, a white mouse, and a white goldfish are slowly waking up from either a natural or chemically-induced slumber. The lazy way in which cats wake up by opening one eye, then the other, then carefully surveying their surroundings before finally deigning to lift their heads would be familiar to any of the cat lovers. The movements of the mouse – and especially of the goldfish that at the start of the video lies listlessly at the bottom of the aquarium – are more mysterious and more curious to observe.

One can easily read into this installation underlying subtexts of the hidden, of the subliminal, of the predator and the prey, and perhaps even ethical questions of science experiments and animal welfare. But what one truly takes away from this work is the most incredible aesthetic effect of the all-pervading, unifying, minimalist white.

Works by Michelle Molinari and Georgie Mattingley are on view at the Victorian College of the Arts until November 25.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries]


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.]

Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

May 2019
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