While her business name, Disce Mori is Latin for “learn to die” and her works fuse jewellery design, leather work and taxidermy, Melbourne designer Julia deVille’s creations are a celebration of life.
Learning the art of taxidermy from Rudy Mineur, deVille went on to study gold and silversmithing at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. She has since concocted such objects as brooches from mice, small birds and bats and uses materials like animal and human bone – even casting some bones in silver.
Despite her designs exploring mortality, deVille doesn’t consider her creations macabre. “I believe if we can identify with our mortality, we can, in turn appreciate the significance of life,” she says.
A vegetarian and animal rights activist, deVille says nothing is killed or harmed for her works. “All animals I use have died of natural causes and I feel my taxidermy is a tribute to their lives,” she says.
Each of deVille’s pieces is painstakingly designed to reflect beauty and peace.
“I am not trying to shock or upset my viewers. I want them to think seriously about life and death and what it means to them in a positive way,” she says.
“By combining precious stones like diamonds with a taxidermy mouse I find it really confronts people.
“I am asking the question, what is precious? Diamonds are considered precious to most people, but I can buy any diamond I want from my diamond merchant.
“I never know when I will find my next mouse so, to me that is more precious, not to mention the life the mouse once lived. Far more precious than a diamond.”
In Issue 07 of Habitus magazine Stephen Crafti takes us behind the doors of deVille’s home and workshop in Melbourne. Pick up your copy from major bookstores and newsagents.
Portrait image: James Greer