Author Archives: Nanette

The Guild Project.

by Una Cruickshank

Jewellers Neil Balthasar and Ewan Tremellen, calling themselves The Guild Project, have opened their exclusive Bourke Street workshop to the public for the first time. Although the pair, who have worked together since 2000, have occupied the space for three years, they have only now installed showcases where ready-to-wear items can be viewed. The pair had previously worked almost exclusively on commission, and say they were thrilled with the opportunity to create new pieces for public viewing under the auspices of the MIDF.

Both designers specialise in large, bold pieces, many of which are set with richly coloured semi-precious stones. As Balthasar explains, the use of semi-precious stones allows for large-scale designs, which simply wouldn’t be achievable for a designer working with more conventional materials like diamonds. Semi-precious stones also come in a huge variety of unusual forms – for example, the ball of tourmalated quartz which adorns one cocktail ring in the collection almost looks man-made. Shot through with tiny needles of black tourmaline, it certainly grabs the attention.

The Guild Project is located at 2A/190 Bourke Street, Melbourne.

Phone 03 9662 9877.


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One Pair of Legs.

by Una Cruickshank

One Pair of Legs, by Sue Buchanan and Eli Giannini, is a “modern fable” told in graphic form. In keeping with their interest in what they call “urban hardware”, the story is conveyed in the form of a series of modified road signs positioned along the Riverside Walk behind Federation Square.

The text of the fable goes as follows:

One day one pair of legs – let’s call them Jane – got out of the car, started walking and:

-Smelled the roses and fresh air.

-Began talking and walking.

-Showed off her new shoes.

-Played kick-to-kick in the park.

-Found new frontiers.

-Left road rage behind.

-Relaxed and slowed down.

…and others followed…everyone was walking…and soon there were more pedestrians than car users…and the world was a better place…although tragically, one rogue car – one of the few unbelievers – ran Jane down, so she was then beatified and became St Jane the Patron Saint of Walkers.

Nearby, in the Federation Square carpark, the duo’s other festival submission, w.(web) , glistens in a rather sinister manner…

One Pair of Legs,

Riverside Walk, Federation Square.

July 17-27.

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Max GRR! Reinterprets Kid’s Classic.

By Una Cruickshank.

Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years. As the children of the original fans come of age (amazingly, the book has been in print since 1963), there has been a spate of tributes in such unlikely media as ballet, landscape design and tattooing. A live-action film directed by Spike Jonze is due for release in 2009, and already has movie fans in a frenzy. So the time was ripe for Ben Edwards, Fiona Bryant, Rob McCreedy and choreographer Kate Stanley to collaborate on their own interpretation of the much-loved story – one with a distinct Melbourne twist.

Max GRR!, a performance inspired by Max’s adventures, will be held in the Centreplace Laneway on the evenings of July 23rd and 24th. Audience members will line the laneway on both sides; the performance can alternatively be viewed from Hell’s Kitchen, the bar overlooking the laneway.

Bryant, who plays Max, has adapted an existing dance piece from the stage to the long, narrow confines of the laneway, while McCreedy, a recent addition to the ensemble, represents the monsters. Edwards, an architect with Melbourne firm 1:1, has created a set designed to exploit the dark, eerie aesthetic of the laneway to the full.

They’re not giving away much more than that – details of the sets and costumes are being kept under wraps until the first night. What is clear is that Max GRR! will not adhere strictly to the original story – Edwards promises a darker, more abstract interpretation of the themes in the book, designed with a grownup audience in mind.

Admission to Max GRR! is free, but bookings are essential; email or visit

Max GRR!

Wednesday 23rd -Thursday 24th July, 8pm

Centreplace Laneway

Admission Free.

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w. (web) Coming Soon to Federation Square.

by Una Cruickshank

The uninspiring environs of the Federation Square carpark will play host over the next two weeks to a bold purpose-made installation by architects Sue Buchanan and Eli Giannini. w. (web) is purpose built for the “dark and spooky” carpark, with its long concrete walls and low ceilings, and will be startling commuters for the duration of the MIDF.

As the name suggests, long-time friends and collaborators Buchanan and Giannini created w. (web) to examine interactions between the natural and the artificial – specifically, the way in which elements of the natural world, including humans, adapt to new technologies and built environments. The piece, an artificial spider web made out of 700 cats-eye reflectors, aims to use the ‘world wide web’ as a metaphor for electronic interconnections.

The pair have an impressive record of using humble materials to transform environments, in one instance using thousands of blue twisty-ties to simulate grass at Werribee Park (Introduced Species, above). By their usual grand-scale standards, a 700-piece indoor installation seems almost humble, but w.(web) is sure to leave an impression on viewers.

Although this is the first year they have participated in the MIDF, they found the theme Strength in Numbers inspiring enough that they’ve created two separate installations, w. (web) and One Pair of Legs, a fable in the form of a series of signs which will appear along Birrarung Marr. For both installations, Buchanan and Giannini will utilise what they term “urban hardware” in order to produce works which are “poetic, rather than prosaic” in locations not normally associated with art.

w. (web)

Thursday 17 – Sunday 27 July

Level 2, Federation Square Carpark (near Atrium underpass)

One Pair of Legs (A Modern Fable)

Thursday 17 – Sunday 27 July

Riverside Walk, Federation Square.

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Julia deVille and the Art of Dying.

Julia Deville - Bird Wing Brooch

By Una Cruickshank.

Jewellery designer and leatherworker Julia deVille is an artist whose life and work are thoroughly intertwined. Not one to shrink from the macabre, she expertly blends the beautiful and the gruesome, to produce work which is both lovely and unsettling. Her new show, Prey, combines religious themes with glimpses of the violence of the natural world, with bones, bird claws and fur featuring alongside crucifixes and Victorian-inspired garments.

Upon meeting her, it’s a little hard to believe that this gravely pretty young woman has been known to skin kittens. But there’s a lot that seems incongruous about deVille’s work at first glance – she’s a vegetarian and animal rights advocate who practices taxidermy, and a designer who uses the iconography of death to celebrate life. However, it soon becomes clear that there is a consistent philosophy at work.

Her work with bones and fur, she says, is motivated by her love of nature, particularly a desire to preserve animals after death “in a more creative way than what a museum would do”. By using mourning iconography in her extravagantly pretty jewellery, she aims to remind the wearer that life is both fleeting and precious.

This determination to face death without flinching extends far into deVille’s own life. She wears a delicate tattoo of a ‘memento mori’ skull on her thumb (“it’s the ultimate symbol of human mortality…you see it and you have to stop and remember that you’re so lucky to be alive”), and has willed her body to Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds exhibition, where she herself will be preserved and put on display someday. It will be a peculiarly fitting afterlife – but here’s hoping it’s a long way off.

Prey by Julia Deville

Eastern Market, 107 Grattan Street, Carlton.

July 16-August 10.

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