Julia McKinlay

About JUlia McKinlay

Julia’s work often evolves from research into natural history collection and display. Historic shell collections and the carrier snail Xenophora is a focus of this research at the moment. She works with processes in the studio that mimic events in nature through the involvement of chemical reactions, heat and pressure. She is interested in the overlap between the natural and industrial and have been working with slag, a kind of human made volcanic rock formed through metal casting. Her installations and works in series represent semi-fictional environments inspired by field visits to museums, workshops, quarries and foundries.

Her practice fuses sculpture and print processes. She pulls prints directly from parts of sculptures and gather a two-dimensional version of the work. The prints are sculptures within a narrow space.

My practice is driven by experimenting with materials and processes. Learning new skills like Japanese woodblock printing, or metalworking always leads to new directions for my work, as it isn’t until I start making something that I know what it will be. I usually start working with some research like photos from a visit to a museum or a drawing and then see what happens when I try to translate it through printing or a sculpture process. I also find there is a lot of overlap between print and sculpture processes – you are working with chemical reactions, pressure and heat to make something. So I sometimes use print processes to make sculpture, or I work with prints as if they are three-dimensional objects. I enjoy the thinking time and room for testing ideas in slow processes like etching or blacksmithing.

Acid soaked steel molluscs currently populate Julia McKinlay’s work, their etched surfaces containing organic systems and pathways. In her installations synthetic geology interacts with an ordered world of coils, ovals and voids. Molten slag has erupted from the furnace, frothing and flowing over and inside the shell of a now extinct organism, leaving behind a fossil remnant. Like a soft bodied creature, her work takes the form of collections that expand and contract with the space available to it.