A yellow chick in an antique ice cream scoop, a black kitten curled up in a copper pot and a deer dripping with rubies are three of the works that feature in Julia deVille’s latest exhibition of sculptures, which combines taxidermy and precious stones with provocative social comment.

In Sarcophagus, the taxidermist, jeweller and strict vegetarian uses animals that died of natural causes to raise some uneasy truths about the way farm animals are treated in comparison to domestic pets and the arbitrary line that distinguishes a pet from what will end up in tonight’s pot roast.

So while the neighbour’s aging cat, Hercules, is stretching out in the sun and enjoying regular veterinary check ups, egg production using battery hens (banned in the EU for its perceived cruelty to animals) continues apace in Australia.

The slaughter of bobby calves at five days old for veal and the gassing of male chicks at one day old (understood to be a waste product of the poultry industry), are some of the distasteful realities evoked by this exhibition, which combines the sublime with the macabre.

Sarcophagus is deVille’s third solo exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, following her 2010 exhibition, Night’s Plutonian Shore.

Sarcophagus opens tonight (July 25) from 6pm at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Richmond. The exhibition runs until September 1.

sophiegannongallery.com.au