Portrait: Julia at home in her Brunswick backyard
Sometime in Australia’s recent past Melbourne laid claim to the title of Arts Capital of Australia (amongst several other monikers). With its award winning urban design, a multitude of arts festivals, gallery laden postcodes, hipsters artisans, and business collectives – it certainly has a right to that claim.
The city boasts all manner of exhibitions, gigs and events year round and in addition to its many established festivals Melbourne also has a visible fondness for independent, youth and community arts.
Seemingly etched in a Melburnian’s blueprint is interest in free and artistic expression, this combined with an Australian-wide eagerness to back an under-dog has seen a ground swell in interest in the work of fledgling local artisans, their skills and their start-up brands.
Like all trends there are many factors at play, and many new arts-business models have been mobilized by the rise in the availability and use of social media and interestingly also by the popularity of the slow movement in the face of digital modernity.
Additionally global economic factors have forced many in recent times to look to new careers, bundle that with an interest in preserving tradition, layers of multiculturalism, and a growing population… and you have a few solid reasons as to why you can now see the work of more local artisan’s in Melbourne’s boutiques than a decade ago.
Julia Moon Billings is one such new business artisan. She works with wool, making unique garments and teaching others to do the same. She blogs under the name Woollenflower. Through her work she explores modern and traditional global working methods and combines her knowledge of plants and herbs to explore colour and create unique natural dyes.
Like so many Julia spent her twenties travelling and studying, which for her included, languages, naturopathy and horticulture. During her studies she discovered a natural focus for the genus and healing properties of plants – additionally she loved the way they looked and developed a continuing love affair with the designs found in nature.
I caught up with Julia at home in Brunswick, and surrounded by a wonderfully and eclectic collection of plants, art and found objects we talked about her love of wool and the wearable arts.