January 2009: Inspired by the memento mori and mourning jewellery popular in Victorian times, Julia de Ville creates jewellery made from bones, hair, and small animals cast in sterling silver or gold. Originally from Wellington, NZ, She is now living and working in Melbourne running her label ‘Disce Mori’.
Hi, what have you been up to lately?
Well, I had eight exhibitions last year; two solos and six group shows. I went to LA, New York and London twice last year for fashion week, to meet buyers and to have an exhibition in NYC and I also moved house and studio.
How would you describe your work?
Your label is Disce Mori, where does this name come from?
It is Latin, meaning “Learn to die”. I found it on a 16th Century piece of jewellery.
When did you first realize you had an interest in taxidermy?
At about the age of 15 but I have been interested in the macabre from as early as I can remember.
Taxidermy doesn’t seem like it’s for everyone, what was the process like the first time?
Actually, not that bad. It’s really clean – when you skin a bird it looks just like a chicken (the type you get at the supermarket) on the inside so it’s really familiar and not scary at all.
Where do you normally find the animals used in your work?
All the animals I use have died of natural causes. I find dead birds and mice lying around but most of my subjects are donated to me by friends and strangers that have found something or have a deceased pet.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I did a year of fashion in NZ, a year of shoe making in Melbourne, two years of jewellery school and a mentorship with a taxidermist.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of?
My piece called “Anatomy of a Rabbit” is my favourite. It is a taxidermy rabbit with it’s ribcage and forelegs cast in silver and a ruby encrusted heart hanging inside the ribcage.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, in your field that you have yet to try?
Too many to count.
what can we expect to see from you in the future?
I am slowly moving towards being an artist. I find making sculptural objects really satisfying. It takes out the question of application to the body, which I like.
I read somewhere that you donated your body to the Institute for Plastination in Germany, where did this decision come from?
I saw a story on the news where he (Gunther Von Hagens) was being accused of stealing corpses (which was completely untrue) so I called them up and asked to be a donor.
Do you have a favourite artist, or artists?
Nick Cave, Ray Caesar, Patricia Piccinini
where can people see your work?
L’Eclaireur in Paris, World in NZ, Camargue in Brisbane, Eastern Market, Cose Ipanema and e.g.etal in Melbourne