Textile Art

Creepy but beautiful

"Beware, for I am fearless, and therefore powerful" - Mary Shelley

It’s almost Halloween, so to celebrate (is that the right word?) I’ve taken a look at three of my favourite ‘creepy’ artists.

Art is often beautiful and disgusting at the same time – some of the most important work that’s ever been created can intrigue and repel in equal measure (Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain springs to mind). These three artists have a history of making work that is challenging and explores concepts of death, dying, and prejudice, but it somehow invites you in.


Damien Hirst (b. 1965)

diamond skull
For the Love of God, 2007

Yes, those diamonds are real. It’s made of platinum, a real skull and teeth, and 8,601 diamonds, and it cost £14 million to make.

Like much of Hirst’s work, the intent is to remind you of your own mortality. His series of dead sharks, cows, and other assorted things floating in formaldehyde do the same thing – they put you face to face with death (and scare the pants off you at the same time).

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991


Find out more about his work here


Julia de Ville, (b. 1982)

I’ll always remember the first time I saw Julia’s work in the ‘flesh’ – it was through a curtin into a room at the NGV in Melbourne, and I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know where to look.

She’s an animal rights activist, and all her creatures are stillborn or have died of natural causes, and if you really love her work she also makes jewellery (and it’s sort-of affordable).

Much of her work references death and dying – aside from the actual dead animals, she plays with the concept of memento mori – a physical or symbolic reminder that you will die. This idea that we should remember our own mortality has been around for a very long time, and in some ways Halloween achieves the same purpose in venerating death and fear.


Charon, 2010



Find out more about Julia here


Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965)

Piccinini rides that edge where her work is so good you have to look, but so gross you don’t want to. Squishy soft flesh, hairy orifices, unidentifiable yet familiar body parts are the stuff of nightmares, but there’s also a friendly familiarity to her work.

Her work is polarising, grotesque and hyper-real.

Undivided, 2004


Prone, 2011
The Carrier, 2012
The Carrier (detail), 2012

Find out more about Patricia’s work here


Spooked out yet?

If you’ve got a favourite artist who excels in doom and gloom please let me know!


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