on the edge

A change of venue


A collection of unidentified objects hover on the wall. The forms are strange but somehow familiar. They look almost like museum pieces, specimens from some lost civilisation or perhaps even from another world altogether. Yet they are recognisably the product of our commercial, industrial age. (installation detail: plaster casts made from plastic packaging)

To see more go to julieshiels.com.au

45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
November 13 – December 8, 2007
Tuesday – Friday 11 – 5pm
Saturday 12 – 4pm

During 2007, I’ve been walking the streets of the CBD, observing life as a ‘botanist of the pavement’ and collecting discarded items that can be re-purposed – like the plastic packaging used to cast the objects in this show, and flattened cardboard boxes. The boxes are stencilled and then returned to the piles of flattened cardboard stacked on the street for recycling.

Every object has a story.

Acting suspiciously #2


“Can I help you”, she asked unconvincingly. It had taken roughly 3 minutes for the security cameras to pick up the photographer in the laneway.
“No, I’m OK thanks.”
“Well, what are you doing then?” she replied still trying hard to sound friendly.
“I’m just taking a photo of the side of the building.”
“Well, Head Office don’t like that, they are a bit nervous of people taking photos of the windows.”
“It’s not against the law though.” responded the photographer.
“Well, I know”, she said resentfully “but can you be quick about then?”

Acting suspiciously


As she walked down the ramp into the back of the car show room, she could see 3 sleazy looking guys arguing. One guy was particularly hot under the collar. They all turned to look at her.
Can I take a photo of the crates in your laneway, she piped, trying to sound like it was a completely normal request.
Sure, said balding ponytail.
The surprised look on their faces was difficult to interpret.
What do you want to do that for?,demanded hot head tersely.
I take photos of the street.
Why don’t you take a photo of him?, said balding ponytail and pointed to the third guy who looked the least threatening of all.
No thanks, I just want a picture of the crates, she replied.
You can take them away for all I care, barked hot head.
Thanks, but I just want a photo.
Hot head persisted:What do you want to do that for?
I’m an artist, she said. I photograph the city.
Well go and ask next door. The crates belong to them, snapped hot head.
Look, she responded in an exasperated tone. I don’t need your permission. I was just asking to be polite.

At that point third guy said: Sure, take as many pictures as you like.

Two minutes later, she heard a voice say:
Can I help you? Sure you don’t want to take our photo? Third guy was coming towards her up the ramp.
No thanks, I’ve finished now, she replied, the light was wrong and she decided it was time to leave.
Trying to keep things friendly she offered, I don’t take photos of people.

When she got to the corner of the street she could see the front of the building. It was a boy racer’s dream full of European sports cars, and in the window was an estate agent – FOR LEASE. West Melbourne

But this can happen when you don’t ask.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed


“When I start work at 6am, the city is totally deserted, just us tradies heading off to the building sites. On Saturday morning it’s a bit different though. There are all these ravers staggering around off their heads and dressed in weird gear. Eyes hanging out of the their heads.

I wouldn’t have a clue where they’ve been. I just drink at the pub.
It must be somewhere around Little Collins and Elizabeth, though. When they see me they go ‘haa haa, you’re going to go to work’.”


Exhibition Dates
Tuesday August 29 – Saturday September 16 2006
Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 5pm
Saturday: 12pm – 4pm

I was stencilling stories onto dumped mattresses in the streets of St Kilda when the fabric on their covers caught my eye. A whole history of textile design was going off to the tip. They were too gorgeous to stencil, too precious to leave. So I started collecting mattresses, piling them onto the roof of my car and taking them home. As the garage began to overflow I wondered what to do next. I wanted to give these mattresses another life.

I started sewing pyjamas, carefully cutting each garment to fit the cloth avoiding the blemishes where possible but retaining the intimate history. The pyjamas draw our gaze and invite our touch. But as they attract, they also repel, because of their past, their proximity to the skin of a person or persons unknown. They embody someone else’s story but prompt the question “how do you sleep?”

Image: ‘Mitford Street Pyjamas’ 2006

fortyfivedownstairs – 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne