ON WALKING INTO Will and Garrett Huxley’s apartment in Melbourne’s inner-north, one is instantly overwhelmed. Paintings, prints and masks line every wall; a sequinned mannequin extends an inviting hand out by the stairs. A cup of thick cut chips sit on the living room table, although the cup and its contents are entirely ceramic. A kaleidoscopic mix of high and low art exists to jostle against established notions of good taste. The couple’s tribute to the renaissance – a statue dragged out of a suburban swimming pool – guards the entrance to their bedroom. “We hate minimalism,” says Will, and points to a two-headed doll made from the recycled outfit of a drag queen. “Minimalism is for those who are scared of committing bad taste”
The couple perform together as the boundary-bending duo known as The Huxleys. Through costume, video and performance art, they embrace sparkly worlds of kitsch and queer. On stage, they defy gender norms. At home, they subvert assumptions about high-rise apartment living. Inspired by Iris Apfel’s maximalist approach to interior design, the two have aligned the aesthetic of their home with their artistic practice of staged excess – and with good reason. “In performance art,” Will notes, “there’s no real way of keeping your work.” Occupied by ephemeral projects, the two are instead comforted by a sense of permanence within their home.
Their apartment is an intimate reflection of the people in their lives, many of the pieces in their home made by friends, and usually acquired through a trade. Will highlights a small print, a painting of the two dressed as prawn-worshipping, rose-coloured cult characters for their show, Discordia. The painting was made by their close friend, Sally Ross, and when it was exhibited as a finalist for the Archibald prize, Sally herself donned a wig and dressed as if she was from the Huxley’s show. “We have a special connection with everything in here,” Garrett elaborates. “We feel as if we’re living with all of our favourite artists.”
Will and Garrett speak of the power of costume, and how they have always been drawn to artists such as Prince and Leigh Bowery who have used performance to come out of their shells. “Once you put on the outfit,” observes Garrett, “you’re no longer you.” This notion of transformation is present in both their art and home, the vibrancy of the apartment’s décor sitting in stunning contrast to its conventional exterior. The Huxleys laugh at the limitation of their home’s architecture, and point out how the masks that adorn their walls reference their own practice of costuming. As they help each other get dressed in pink feathered body suits from their latest show, their metamorphosis becomes indicative of the art within their home – art that acts a costume for the very space itself.