Highly Commended 2023

The Huxleys

The Huxleys

Bloodlines is a series celebrating artistic heroes we have lost to HIV/AIDS. Honouring legendary and influential voices taken too soon.

Bloodlines is a multidisciplinary art series celebrating artistic heroes we have lost to HIV/AIDS. Honouring legendary and influential voices taken too soon. LGBTIQA+ artists that elevated and inspired the worlds of queer art eternally. The Huxleys created 13 costumes for their photographic and video works which emulated each artist in a uniquely Huxley fashion but capturing the essence of what made these artists so special and unique. They researched and studied the history of these icons and created new vibrant and heartfelt works designed as queer 'holy cards'. Communicating the important of history and legacy to new generations.

Design Brief:

In undertaking this project we carried the weight of legacy. Each of the artists honoured in this series had a unique voice with a clear aesthetic. one etched into our artistic history. We wanted to find the balance of honouring them and referencing their specific style and voice but doing it in a way that was specific to our own visual vocabulary. We never wanted to present a copy of another artists work. It had to be contemporary but also indebted to history. It was challenging interpreting visual and performance art and creating costumes that spoke to this world. Taking the 2 Dimensional and making it 3 Dimensional and wearable. The intention was to inspire and educate audiences and queer community to remember these artists and to dream of the vibrant and wild future they imagined for us all.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Each costume and image was thoroughly researched. We read biographies, watched documentaries, wrote to people online who knew the artists. We created scrapbooks and montages to work out how each costume and image would look.

We sketch each costume out first and have a clear vision of how each will look.

We then search for vintage/recycled and one of a kind fabrics and materials to create the design.

We create patterns and mini versions of each look before going into production.

It is then a matter of trial and error in the creation of costumes that don't rely on traditional patterns.

The costumes had to be wearable and surreal at the same time. and had to fit into a clear design ethos that was celebrating the extreme queer and defiant voices we were emulating.

We had also to consider our makeup design to compliment and contrast the costume design.

The final images were going to be very large so we knew every detail had to be perfect, there was no room for unfinished elements. We also have to perform in these costumes so we had to consider movement, vision and breathability. Which is a challenge with some of the more sculptural elements.

We also photograph our work by ourselves and so we need to be able to run back and forth and check the images have be captured correctly so we have to be able to get in and out of the costumes easily and be able to operate technology.

We met all the challenges working together closely and ensuring we honoured these artists in the most glorious and heartfelt fashion possible.

Design Excellence

The designs are unique and have their own worlds. They speak to the past but our clearly rooted in the future of art and fashion, thinking outside the binaries of gender, ready to wear and commercial fashion. These are wearable artworks which give voice to different sub cultures, and different voices. Heralding the genius and resilience of our queer community and its history. And the struggle and pain we have been through. Loosing so many voices to HIV/AIDS. This series of designs honours their legacy and shows how their influence is still inspiring us to push to greater heights. We took on the challenge of designing in their shadow but allowing our own voices to ring through.

The challenge of making sculptural, bizarre and extreme costumes that are wearable, visually impacting and beautiful all together was a challenge. Working with a team of just two of us on a limited budget meant thinking smartly about reusing old costumes elements, recycling foam, fabrics and embellishments. And having to consider makeup, performance, photography and exhibition outcomes was part of our design. We did not want to fail as these artists meant the world to us. I believe it shows what Victorian designers can dream up and achieve if they are passionate and hard working. Creating something that is totally unique and speaks in a voice that others may not dare too. Maximalism, over the top, queer, ridiculous. It brings joy, humour and heart to a deeply personal subject of honouring our queer history. These costumes will be kept, worn and reused by The Huxleys and other performers for years to come. They are one off's and utilise recycled materials and fabrics. and our not mass produced. created by hand in the The Huxleys own studio in Melbourne.

Design Innovation

These designs are innovative having to be wearable art, fashion and performance pieces, creating an aesthetic that is thinking of the future but speaking to the past of great queer artists. It was a challenge to create works that reminded us of the incredible artists that went before us but also were totally new and unique. Using multiple materials and design approaches to realise our vision. They also had multiple outcomes. Installation, costumes, photographic, performance and video works were all created featuring these designs. They create new worlds for us to perform and exist in and invite audiences to find joy, humour and love within our work. Creating magical detours from every day life for people.

Design Impact

These works are a way of honouring and speaking to the profound struggle of our LGBTIQA+ community. Celebrating and remembering the voices we lost to HIV/AIDS. It is a way of telling our stories and inviting new audiences and younger generations to consider the impact of these voices and how hard they fought. and how they have influenced queer art and culture.

This is part celebration and part educational. We will never forget our queer elders those who had to fight longer and harder. And created visions that allow us to dream and work as contemporary queer artists. We hope it encourages viewers to live as wild and free as those who are no longer with us. It allows The Huxleys to showcase our voice with vibrancy and urgency and the work was seen on the world stage as these designs were showcased as part of Sydney World Pride.

Giving a pedestal to us as Victorian artists and designers. Putting our community and story in full colourful spectacle and being unashamed and free of restraints. Fashion and art can be anything you dream of. We work with just the two of us and reuse elements of old costumes, recycled fabrics and materials. Always minimising our impact and keeping our costumes for years to come. They are one off's and are not mass produced or wasted. We hope one day they may even be collected in a gallery context to showcase the innovation of Victorian design. We believe that honouring artists such as Melbourne born Leigh Bowery shows the ongoing ingenuity of Victorian designers across history.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

With this project we took apart elements from older costumes we no longer used. borrowed parts of foam, fabrics and embellishments that we had around the studio. We created costumes using just the two of us working in a small studio and used all the materials we had, working with a small budget. there was no waste. Everything we buy gets used and is made to a standard that will mean it will last for a very long time as is the antithesis of fast fashion. It is designed as artwork to live on. and be a part of Victoria's design story.

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