By Amelia James
Living in Napoleans, a small township south of Ballarat, husband and wife team Julie Collins and Derek John have carved out a unique life for themselves and their family.
Together they operate djprojects, a multi faceted business that combines Julie’s sculpting and curatorial background with Derek’s skills in steel fabrication and design. The business has evolved steadily, with the couple collaborating on tasks in ways that blur the lines between roles. With the workshop, home and office at the same location the boundaries between business and life are also fluid, but with a clear passion for what they do Julie and Derek are happy to have it that way.
Their secluded property is nestled amongst native forest, providing the perfect backdrop for a collection of large scale sculptures that are arranged casually in the landscape. The more you look the more sculptures you see, in gaps between trees, at the entrance to the workshop and alongside the driveway. Its an impressive display that make most peoples home gardens look positively tame.
While many of the sculptures are their own, some are works that Derek has fabricated for other artists, or sculptures en route to or from exhibitions. It all sounds and looks a bit glamorous, but the truth is that Julie and Derek work tirelessly to make ‘good things happen’ and their support for all things artistic and sculptural reach far beyong the boundaries of their rural home.
Earlier this year the couple opened ‘& Gallery’ in Melbourne’s Spencer Street and Julie has recently left her roles as the Artistic Director of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale and the Public Art Coordinator for the City of Ballarat to move onto their next exciting venture – The Biennale of Australian Art in 2018. Although curatorial roles, artist management and steel fabrication are all in a day’s work for this dynamic duo, they still make time to create their own sculptural work, which is held in public and private collections around the globe.
Julie and Derek are passionate about exploring the human impact on our planet, a theme they use making art that causes the viewer to pause and consider tings from a different perspective, urging humankind to take responsibility and whatever actions needed to redress the balance.
Images : Main Image – Geoffrey Ricardo, The End – The Beginning
Jill Orr, Song To The Sea
Andrew Rogers, Nature Exemplar