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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Observation point

by The Huxleys, 19 January 2022

Style Over Substance 2020 (still), 2020 The Huxleys
Style Over Substance 2020 (still), 2020 The Huxleys. © Will and Garrett Huxley

Growing up feeling isolated, ostracised and ornate in the heated homogeny of the suburbs of Perth and the Gold Coast we often longed and dreamed for an escape. Looking to the saturated images of David Bowie, Prince and Grace Jones that beamed from another planet via late nights of Rage and Countdown favours from Molly. We longed to be our very own superstars – makeup, dancefloors, costumes. Primed and ready to fly away on the glittered wings of androgyny and disco. It was through art and portraiture that we were able to create the dream that we longed for. Finding solace in each other as kindred spirits with a perverse penchant for the dress-up box.

Creating identities for ourselves that felt too much and just enough at the same time. Portraiture gave us the space to play and create a postmodern dreamscape of androgynous freedom. You may not actually be an alien popstar channelling Hieronymus Bosch heading to Studio 54, but you can create that image for yourself! As young artists we both came across the imagery of photographer Cindy Sherman and marvelled at the incredible array of characters she became. These were portraits that had a wicked sense of humour, mystery, beauty and horror. You could explore multiple identities, genders and narratives. There was such freedom in this idea. When you grow up not feeling that you are accepted or comfortable in your own skin you find ways to feel safe and this for us often came through costumes, masks and theatricality. Playing with identities gave us the confidence to become performers and explore the most fabulous facets of ourselves. Portraiture allows us to celebrate this lurid freedom and visual adventure. Our art and costumes are often ridiculous, obtuse and uncomfortable. We would never expect anyone to subject themselves to this level of visual horror so it always made sense to use ourselves in our imagery. We have learned to have no shame and there is tremendous fun to be had in that space. Why limit yourself to one look, one identity when you can be many? Portraiture has allowed us to ascend to the glam rock superstars of our dreams. And hopefully allows people a glimpse of the magical world we inhabit by following our hearts and creative passions.

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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