Julie Haseler Reilly's new exhibition "FAT and the SHOW GIRL" is now showing at Richard Martin Art until May 2.
We caught up with Julie for a chat and to find out what inspires and what makes her tick.
Can you give us some background to how you became a visual artist?I have always been able to make things. My dolls had elaborate cardboard sets. As a child, I made Barbie gowns from sample upholstery and curtain material, begged off local stores and by the age of 12, I could cut patterns for my clothes and large soft toys. As an adult I have made costumes and hats and props for the theatre.
My father was a dental technician and would give me lumps of wax to play with while waiting for a lift home after school. I became aware of the lost wax process in his laboratory and probably subconsciously avoided anything to do with such a tedious and laborious occupation. Teeth were the only by-products.
When did you start, why did you start?I had satisfied my desire to be a creative person, with acting, singing, writing and dancing. Sculpture just hadn’t occurred to me till late in life. I made portrait busts of my two daughters in 2000 and bronzed them in 2001. I loved them so much I wanted to immortalise them as the 8 and 9 year old girls they were at the time. The process surprised me and made me curious about what else I could do to express myself in the medium. I loved working in clay and wax.
Where do you get your inspiration for each work?Watching the news and reading the paper, which I try to avoid as much as possible, is the inspiration for creating my ‘optimistic ‘bodies of work’. Like the Venus of Willendorff, they are a totem of hope for my tribe in our time.
‘Beulah’ - I was trying to create a pear shaped female form and the character of ‘Beulah’ emerged as the improbable athlete and became my signature form.
‘The Pedicure’ began as an extension of Beulah but morphed into her own self. She evolved as I played with the clay. This seems to be my process unless I am doing a life study.
‘Flying Muses’-I am playing with smaller versions of ‘Beulah’ my signature piece.
‘Trapeze’ - Another expression of ‘Beulah.’
‘Euro’- another pear shaped form who emerged as an innocent protecting the last Euro.
‘Fat Tango’ and ‘Big Fat Tango’- I was interested in capturing the passion of the tango and the impact and movement and balance of two large people slamming together. I have been a dancer and am fascinated by small gestures and moments of drama captured in the dance.
‘Beatrice Bush’ - Marquette for street sculpture of famous paper seller in Balmain area.
‘Abundance’ and ‘Prosperity’ - are totems dedicated to engendering the qualities their titles imply. They are Idols of Hope in a world of fear and loathing.
‘Proserpine Says Yes’ - is my answer to the Heroic Rape sculptures and in particular, Bernini’s the ‘Rape of Proserpina’. I have immortalised her having a freely consenting good time as opposed to being portrayed as the victim. (See attached).
‘Mum’s Watching’ emerged from a nude life study as a figure of protection and watchfulness. I have memories of my mother sitting in the sun like a Max Dupane photograph, ever watchful of her brood in the water. She looks after us all.
‘Fandango’ and ‘Delores’ are both defiant expressions of joy, and fearlessness in the face of reality. They are about confidence and hope.
‘Pole Dancers’ - I wanted to do something clever by suspending bronze figures rather than the usual granite base and thought pole dancers would be a good subject. They are a Marquette for a large-scale work. My dream location would be the fore court of St Marys Cathedral.
‘Joy’ - I wanted to make a small figure with a lot of movement and energy.
‘Ample’-Defying the notion of modern beauty.
‘Dewi Kewpie’ - I have always admired the Hindu/Animist religious practices of the Balinese people. Giving offerings of flowers, food and incense and simple daily prayers. I am not religious but felt a bit envious of the spiritual practice in my village and a little fraudulent when I did participate at our temple. I decided to create my own stone idol, a spiritual portal for the irreligious.
‘Serene’- Carving in stone is challenging and I wanted to do a figure that was restricted by the size and shape of the block.
‘Peel Me A Grape’- Wanted to make a large reclining female figure in stone. I made a small clay Marquette first and chose a block of stone that would suit the dimensions of the figure. I wanted an improbably big bottom that would be exaggerated by the smallness of her torso.
Other artists that inspire you? - Do they change overtime/ year to year?
Bernini, Degas, Rodin, Rubens, Henry Moore, Picasso Bret Whitely will always be inspirational. I try not to look too much at other contemporary sculpture for fear of influence and imitation but I like Henry Moore, Botero and Allan Somerville.
I find inspiration from life, painting, photography and my imagination.
Rubens- Union of Earth and Water (see images below).
Where do you sculpt and what is your ideal routine/ daytime… or night owl
I usually work in bursts where I go non-stop from about 10am till I collapse with dehydration and exhaustion at dinnertime. I will do this for several days in a row till I have finished with the clay then I will cover it and look at it again in a few days when my head is clear and my eye refreshed so I can see the faults that I was blind to in the honeymoon period of creativity. Then I ‘improve’ where necessary until I am happy to make a mold.
How did you arrive at the title of this current show - ‘Fat’ and ‘The Showgirl’?
There have been a few pieces that people have suggested express something of the ‘showgirl’ from my past career and FAT (Fabulous . Abundant .Triumphant)was the title of my previous exhibition and some of that work was represented in the current show, hence, ‘Fat and the Showgirl’.
What is your sculpting process, movement and balance seems to be a key process, can you tell us about this?
I have trained as a dancer and my teacher, Keith Bane, focused our attention on the importance of gesture. He developed my eye for balance and form and composition. Stillness is just a brief moment between movements. There is always internal motion and energy even when still. In my sculpture I try to give all my work an internal energy. I also like trying to make heavy look light and creating the illusion of moving weighty flesh in bronze.
The beginning of my process is working with clay or wax. I usually start with a rough idea but then let the work evolve and find the character as I move the clay or wax about. I may cast at this stage or make an armature for a larger version.
Life studies are more prescriptive but can be adapted to a narrative later.
‘The Rape of Proserpina’ by Bernini