Will and Garrett Huxley are multidisciplinary contemporary artists based in Melbourne, Australia. They have exhibited artwork in installations, fashion shows, performances and photographic exhibitions and festivals across the world.
As a couple, how do you deal with creative differences?
We barely have any creative differences. What initially attracted us to each other was our love for similar artists such as John Waters, Leigh Bowery, Cindy Sherman and David Bowie so we were off to a good start. If we ever have trouble making decisions on our work we will ask a friend whose opinion we respect, presenting both of our opinions and go with what they advise. If one of us has a strong opinion that the other can’t see, we trust that. We usually find if it makes us both laugh it’s worth pursuing.
You guys wear some serious makeup – a lot of glitter is involved. What are some of the biggest challenges when working with this medium?
Putting it on and taking it off is the biggest challenge. We often remark on how ludicrous it can seem to spend two hours on makeup for a five-minute performance. It’s worth it though. Working with glitter means you always have glitter on you. It’s on our dog and there’s a trail to our studio. We’ve recently switched to eco glitter which is gentler on the skin and biodegradable.
Does your work serve a greater purpose other than as a creative outlet for you both?
What we hope to do with our work is inspire others the way our favourite artists have inspired us. Artists we admired taught us not to care too much what people think, know that too much is never enough and to be the most extreme version of yourself you can be. When you’re a young artistic gay kid growing up in an environment at odds with you, a message like this can mean everything to you. We hope to encourage weirdness, art, humour and being outrageously queer to as many people as possible.
We hope to encourage weirdness, art, humour and being outrageously queer to as many people as possible.
Have you ever come up with a concept which you think is going too far for your audience? Where do you draw the line?
We have respect for our audience and want to thrill them. We don’t like to shock for the sake of being shocking, it has to have some message or meaning behind the work. We think that most people underestimate their audiences and think they will only like it if it’s watered down. We don’t think this is true. In our experiences when we have been told to tone down an act, we usually don’t compromise and the audience ends up loving it.
Should censorship play a role in art?
Some of those Anne Geddes ‘baby-sploitation’ images should be censored. Those images are a crime against babies, gerberas and humanity. Generally, we don’t think art should be censored.
Do you find it’s difficult to shock your audience, given 24-hour media and our overconsumption of social media?
Instead of shocking we want to excite our audience and to give them something new. Creating something new is very difficult given that it feels like we’re over-saturated with imagery. But it makes your job tougher and pushes you even further to find something new to create. So in a way it’s healthy to see so much creativity.
We are working on an album and have created video clips for our songs which we haven’t sung yet.
Can you tell us a little bit about S.O.S?
S.O.S stands for Style Over Substance. It’s the name of our fictitious glam rock band that we created. We started by creating a mural for (Melbourne’s) Bakehouse Studios of the band we would want to be in. This lead to live stage shows where we have musicians, back up dancers, back up singers, video projections, pyrotechnics, confetti cannons, everyone in glam rock costumes, glam rock dogs roaming the stage… we just had no music. We still don’t have music. We are working on an album and have created video clips for our songs which we haven’t sung yet. For what we lack in audio we make up for visually. We love the Oscar Wilde quote where he said “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”
Seeing as the performance is silent, do you ever get hecklers? How do/would you deal with them?
We haven’t had hecklers yet. We’ve heard people say the sound isn’t working which is great. It’s usually just confusion and then halfway through they are on board and chanting S.O.S. If anyone were to heckle us about not having any sound that would be ok, because we’re not supposed to. So they’re right.
It’s shocking to think our leading politician didn’t know or didn’t care.
Last year’s marriage equality postal survey in Australia proved to be a very divisive issue. Even though marriage is now legal between same sex couples, do you feel that the marriage equality debate was a step back for the LGBTQI community?
During the time of the debate it was a definite step back for the LGBTQI community. We knew this would happen, and it’s shocking to think our leading politician didn’t know or didn’t care. Homophobia was on a scale we personally hadn’t experienced since our High School days in the early 90s and it was disguised as free speech. We both moved to Melbourne for its open-minded attitude, which wasn’t apparent for the first (time) since moving here. It reminds you how quickly things can change for you and that’s a scary place to be. We won but it wasn’t a fight we wanted in the first place. We couldn’t understand how the public got to vote on our private lives, it just seemed so absurd.
If you could collaborate with any artist, in any medium, past or present, who would it be and what would you ideally create?
We would both love to have been in one of John Waters’ films with Divine. We could have been the third team competing for the filthiest person alive or worked in the Lipstick Beauty Salon in Female Trouble.