Taxidermist takes out top honours at Nillumbik Prize

Published on 31 May 2019

As-above-so-below

A Collingwood artist, jeweller and taxidermist who uses only naturally deceased animals in her taxidermy, last night won the $20,000 ‘open' honours at the biennial Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art 2019.

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Julia deVille’s work As above, so below addressed this year’s theme of ‘place and space’ by hollowing the area around a rabbit’s ribcage and placing a gem-encrusted heart within (above).
 
Speaking at the packed Montsalvat Barn Gallery, where 53 finalists’ works will be exhibited until July 21, before accepting the award on deVille’s behalf, one of three judges, artist Godwin Bradbeer, said the display captured the “poignancy of mortality and memento mori … transcending morbidity with resonant beauty”.

Imprints of eucalyptus ficifolia,eucalyptus polyanthemus, grevillia robusta and casuarina verticillata onto woollen blankets.

The $10,000 local prize was won by St Andrews photographer and textile artist, Karena Goldfinch, whose botanical print, Legacy features native flora regenerating after Black Saturday, imbued on woollen blankets (above).

Fionna Madigan Barreenong Road

Dunmoochin Foundation artist in residence, Fionna Madigan, took out the inaugural $1,000 mayoral award for Barreenong Rd, an oil painting inspired by contemplative summer drives in Cottles Bridge (above).
 
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor, Karen Egan, who chose the piece with fellow Councillor and art lover, Jane Ashton, said the abstract homage to morning light and rusticity “captured Nillumbik’s essence as a whole”.  
 
Also Chair of the Arts Advisory Committee, Cr Egan said the 16 year-old event’s new acquisitive status and four-fold purse increase now placed it among Australia’s leading arts prizes. This was reflected by 422 entries in diverse mediums from every Australian state and territory.
 
Her opening speech noted Nillumbik Shire’s generations of creatives, and paid special thanks to Montsalvat, for its commitment to “contemporary artists, art forms and ideas that inspire, challenge and generate new ways of thinking for robust debate”. 
 
Both ’open’ and ‘local’ pieces will be added to the Nillumbik Art Collection, a body of work that illustrates the Shire’s connection to the artistic community.

The Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art 2019 reflects the reputation of the Shire as a champion of contemporary visual art and underpins Nillumbik as a destination for cultural tourism. With artists represented from around Australia, it is attracting visitation from interstate, regional Victoria and across Melbourne. 

Visit Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art 2019 for further information.