ART BALL: The Huxleys bring art to life with fabulous flair

Sydney-based performance phenomena The Huxleys are heading back to the west coast to join the electrifying lineup at this year’s ART BALL celebration.

The partners in art and life, Will and Garrett, blend the fabulous and flamboyant with a dash of wild inspiration from almost anywhere they can find it – and the world offers these two performers no shortage of captivating concepts.

We caught up with Will as he takes a short break from frantically finalising their pieces for their ART BALL appearance, and tells us the duo have been busy since their visit to Perth last year.

“We were in Dark Mofo again last year which was really fun, and we had an exhibition of our photographic work in Melbourne which was really exciting because we started as visual artists so it was great to return to making photographic and video work for exhibition. We performed at the opening and sold a lot of work and it was really nice because we sort of got sucked in to performance world…”

“Then at the end of last year we went to Hong Kong and performed and exhibited work for Hong Kong design week, and we’ve just been busy performing and making new costumes, and we’re doing stuff in Adelaide and Brisbane… this year and last year was the first time we’ve been able to do this full-time which is amazing… it’s up and down being a freelance artist but it’s exciting that this is what I do full time, and with Garrett as well.”

The pair’s fabulous costumes are an integral part of their performance art, which Will explains they painstakingly create themselves.

“We work together and design them from really amateur sketches – we’re not very good at drawing! It’s funny to see the sketch and then what it turns into. Most of our costumes are totally impractical and very experimental so we kind of create it all ourselves.”

“Garrett does a lot of the sewing and construction and I do a lot of the video and photographic work… we do makeup together, we find fabrics together… everything is a process of working together but we each have individual skills that we bring to our work.”

Though Will and Garrett find themselves situated very much in performance world these days, Will explains their roots were in the realm of visual art, and drew much inspiration from musical genre.

“I studied film and photography, and Garrett studied visual art – so we started off making photographic and video work, but we had to make costumes to feature in those works. We were asked to make this mural for the Bakehouse Studios which is an iconic Melbourne recording studio, and they invited visual artists to make murals.”

“So we did this glam rock mural, because we always wanted to be glam rock stars. We love David Bowie and T-Rex and Roxy Music and all that stuff… so we made this visual art piece that was really outrageous and we wanted to bring it to life, so we performed it at Dark Mofo. We did a silent glam rock performance with everything but the music, so just the spectacle of videos and dancers and pyrotechnics… and that was so successful and so fun that it led us to think that we can do more of this performing!”

“I think it took me a long time just to be comfortable enough to not care what anybody thinks and have no shame! We love that as you get older, you start to care less about what people think about you so you can start to be as ridiculous or as extreme as possible. Everything we do is an escape from reality to be as fabulous as possible. That’s what we love doing.”

Their fabulous costumes capture the imagination with glitter and defiant forms, drawing inspiration from everything from nature to queer club culture.

“We absorb so much art and culture and music, growing up it was artists and musicians that saved me. I felt really isolated and like a real weirdo growing up in Perth in the 80s and early 90s, and being in that really small environment… but I found artists like David Bowie and Leigh Bowery and Cindy Sherman who spent her career creating alter-egos – I loved art and so did Garrett so nowadays we take inspiration from weird animals, nature, fabric artists… it’s great to have a constant source of inspiration.”

“Humour is a big thing for us too. It’s important to make us laugh. Like if we see a bug that’s really impractical and think… how does that creature live? Let’s make a costume that evokes that feeling! We’ve been making these weird worms – we call them wormholes – based on Bauhaus / Surrealist stuff… but also literal worms. They make us laugh, the idea of them singingĀ Falling In Love AgainĀ by Marlena Deitrich which is this beautiful old 20s song, but dressed as a worm?”

“The contrast of doing something that’s really beautiful, really fucked up, really scary… our whole thing is that we like to push boundaries of taste and gender and just confuse everyone. We don’t like binaries, it’s nice to just feel this fluidity of being whatever shape you want. Whatever gender. It’s just total expression, and we try not to put any barriers around ourselves… it’s fun to work outside of that and have total freedom to do something really ridiculous.”

Don’t miss The Huxleys at this weekend’s ART BALL at the Art Gallery of Western Australia on Saturday 25th May. For tickets and more information head to artball.com.au

Leigh Andrew Hill


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