‘Julie Shiels is perpetually inquisitive. The camera is just one of her many tools, but it’s certainly the most important companion of her curiosity. Most of us take for granted what we see around us; Shiels does not. Looking at the overlooked is at the compassionate core of her project as an artist. Whether installing texts and sculptures in the corners of streets and alleyways, or photographing unlikely spaces and places, Shiels finds human traces, evidence of social life. All of which is valued. Julie’s work remind us that things continue to exist even when they slip from view.’ Julie Ewingtion: Essay from Empty, M.33, Melbourne, 2018.
Shiels makes work for both the gallery and public space.
There are two main strands to her sculptural and photographic work: transposing, abstracting and augmenting everyday objects, and employing text-based strategies in response to context. All her works re-contextualise found or overlooked space, objects and texts. The methodologies guiding her creative projects aim to bring into focus material things and physical spaces that are hidden, undervalued, disappearing or slipping from view.
Throughout her career Shiels has been both an artist and project manager. She developed her process-based methods over two decades, working collaboratively with culturally diverse communities, museums and arts organisations, including the Jewish Museum, Immigration Museum, and with local councils — Banyule, Albury, Bayside and City of Port Phillip.
Julie’s solo shows include: Hidden Life, Linden New Art, All that Remains, Benalla Art Gallery (2019), Empty, Atrium Gallery, Sofitel Hotel, Melbourne (2018), Narrating Absence, Linden New Art (2016), Resisting Disappearance, AC Institute (2015) New York, Ubiquitous Object, Ambivalent Things – Margaret Lawrence Galley (2015) Things Fall Apart, Kings ARI (2013), Material Affect, The Substation (2013), Trace 2, Linden Centre for Contemporary Art (2012), Placeholders and Rubbish Theory, Platform Contemporary Art Spaces (2012 and 2009); Cusp, RMIT Project Space (2011), and Sleeper, Monash Gallery of Art (2009), Flock, Ararat Regional Gallery (2008), Monument, Albury Regional Gallery (2007).
Her work is regularly exhibited in group shows and surveys — most recently: Recent Acquisitions, Geelong Gallery, Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism, ACCA Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2018), Don’t Be Too Polite: Posters and Activism, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (2017), Land/resistance, Defying Empire, National Gallery of Australia (2017), Don’t Be Too Polite: Posters and Activism, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Recent Acquisitions: Port Phillip City Collection 2013 – 14, The Gallery, St Kilda Town Hall (2014), Regimes of Value, Margaret Lawrence Gallery and Substation (2013)
Julie’s photographic works have been published in three monographs: Empty (2018), Waiting (2017) and As Long as it Lasts (2014) by M.33, Melbourne.
She has been commissioned to produce permanent public sculptures: Just Passing Through, (2019), Rosanna Station, New Riviera, (2019) Kingston City Council, Small moments on a long street – public art trail, Bayside City Council (2014 -15), The Last Move, Albert Tower (2013), Aunty Alma’s Seat, (2006) and Margins, memories and markers (2002-3), City of Port Phillip.
She has received arts development grants through City of Melbourne (2011 and 2007), Arts Victoria (2004) and the Australia Council for the Arts: New Work (2009) Arts Fellowship (2004–05). She has undertaken funded residencies at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, China (2010 Toyota Travel Prize), Albury Regional Gallery (2006) and Hanoi, Vietnam (1997, Australia Council).
Her work has been acquired by public collections including: Australian National Gallery, Australia Embassy – Vietnam, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, Polish Poster Biennale, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, State Library of New South Wales, State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia, Gallery of New South Wales, City of Port Phillip, Banyule City Council, Ballarat Regional Gallery, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australian War Memorial, Baillieu Library, Rare Book Collection, Melbourne University, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne.
Julie Shiels completed her PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2015 and was the recipient of the University of Melbourne’s Stella Mary Langford Post Graduate Scholarship. Prior to that she was awarded a Masters of Art at RMIT University in 2006 where she was a sessional lecturer until 2019.