Julian Leigh May <em>Introspection III</em> 2023; aluminium. Courtesy of the designer<br/>
© Julian Leigh May. Photo: Annika Kafcaloudis

Julian Leigh May

Julian Leigh May
(b. 1990, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Julian Leigh May is an experimental designer whose practice embraces diverse disciplines and mediums. Working across furniture, lighting and objects, they seek to transcend barriers between art and design, redefining everyday items through new narratives, materials and forms.

Introspection III, 2023, is a one-off collectable piece that reconfigures our notions of the domestic looking glass. The work is made entirely from aluminium, employing a variety of methods and processes to transform the medium’s qualities, textures and shapes. Introspection III’s frame is constructed from a hand-hammered aluminium sheet, from which emerge sand-cast aluminium thorns, with hand-polished aluminium used to create a somewhat reflective mirror. The piece depicts May’s own personal growth and evolution in a time and place where the world felt particularly vulnerable. For the artist, it is both a self-portrait and a representation of the queer community facing unclear visions of their future. The cragged exterior has been hand-beaten, its sharp thorns protruding from within, housing a mirror that offers a distorted reflection. May invites the viewer to observe themselves from another perspective, glimpsing the world as seen through the artist and their community’s eyes.

May has exhibited nationally and internationally, with work recently presented at the Taiwan Design Expo (where they were a Pier-2 Artist-in Residence), Melbourne Design Week, Craft Victoria’s Fresh! graduate showcase and the VIVID Design Awards at Melbourne Exhibition Centre in 2022. That year they also won the Future Leaders Director’s Choice Award at Fresh!, were a finalist for Lighting and Colour Design in the VIVID Design Awards, and were shortlisted for the Object, Furniture and Lighting (Rising) prize at the IDEA Awards. May holds degrees in Graphic Design (2012) and Furniture Design/Manufacturing (2021) from RMIT University, and is the co-founder of Misc Objet, a curatorial partnership that seeks to create safe spaces and equal opportunities for emerging designers.