Characters by Julia

Julia Levander makes wonderful textile faux taxidermy and trophies. Whenever a delivery arrives it makes an immediate impact on the way the gallery looks and feels, and when a favourite creation leaves the place feels a little empty! So it was a delight to open Julia's latest delivery. The 6 creatures shown underneath arrived yesterday and will be going on-line this week (if they havn't already sold). Julia took time out to tell us a bit about her story and what life's like for a Swede living in the Highlands of Scotland. 

I thought you may want to know a bit about me, my background and my process. If you don't, stop reading now, go and do something better with your time  and have a lovely day!

I'm Swedish.

My grandmother taught me to knit when I was four years old and to embroider a few years after that. My first craft memory is from nursery when I was four, sitting on a window sill listening to HC Andersen stories on cassette tape and knitting a scarf for my teddy, Viggo. It was going to be his 3rd birthday when it was finished. Well  I never finished, Viggo is still 2 years old and now he sits on the window sill while I listen to audio books and sew.

I went to art school between the age of 16-18 and even if painting was my medium back then I was introduced to pattern and clothes making. This new found knowledge came well in hand during my salsa dancing career. I started dancing when I was 14 and performed and taught salsa for years, making a lot of weird and wonderful costumes during the way. I still have a real weakness for the combination leopard print and hot pink! 


Roe Deer £235

I studied Philosophy from an aesthetic point of view at Södertörn University and Art History at Uppsala University and although it was very interesting I wanted to create, not read.

In December 2003 I shouldered my backpack and headed to Australia. By myself. On this journey I met my husband, Ian, on a zebra crossing in Sydney. We had great adventures in both Australia and New Zealand and as soon as I came home I put my apartment on the market and headed for the dramatic Highlands of Scotland. Ian still claims he never asked me to move over but, hey, if you always wait to be asked you can miss out on great things! I love it here and when I'm not beavering away at the sewing machine I love to forage for berries, mushrooms and inspiration in the forest. In the spring of 2012 our daughter was born and multitasking has been made into an art form. Actually I've discovered those wee arms are great for helping me stuff the horns of coos.


Teal Coo £155

Inspiration is such a powerful force in my creativity. If I'm inspired I don't put a piece down until I'm happy and work tend to flow. If I try to work when inspiration is lacking I simply can't move forward. Every little decision becomes a huge hurdle and I stress. This is a reason to why I'm often reluctant to take orders, I need to let myself make what inspires me. The process is much more fun and the result is better. I only take orders if its something that truly inspires and I can't stand the thought of anyone feeling forced to purchase a piece that did not work out the way they hoped. It can be hard to capture someones mental image. If the piece is not what you wanted you are not allowed to buy it. 


Harris Tweed Hare £345

I am a fabric hoarder of somewhat unhealthy measures, I can't get enough. Fabric makes my mouth water. One of my absolute favourite parts of work is to find scrumptious fabric combinations for each character. Contrasts interest me and I think it's important to find a balance to every piece. I cut all my animals free hand, no patterns, no sketches. Just a picture in my head. Trying to get it from my head onto the wall is never boring, I truly love my job! 

Every piece is designed and handmade by me from start to finish. The possibilities are endless and I have so many ideas. I usually have about 10-15 pieces on the go at once. If I ever feel that perhaps one of my ideas is too weird or specific I just repeat my work mantra 'I do what I want' and grab the scissors.


Orange/Pink Coo £160

To have the freedom to really make my own choices I have my beloved power tools down in the garage where I can create the right shield for every character. I also love the effect of mounting a colourful piece on a board of aged wood and our garden is full of wood that is weathering in the lovely Scottish sunshine… When the water is low in the lochs I have a few treasure spots for picking up gorgeous pieces of wood on the shores of the deep, dark and cold lochs. Driftwood is delicious and often inspire so I build the character around the wood.

If you have gotten this far, I'm truly touched! Jx

Harris Tweed Ginger Coo £165

We love working with Julia. As well as being great fun we share similar philosophies and her journey mirrors ours in many ways. I can't wait to see where her craft and talent take her. I feel a campervan visit coming!

I have to be honest, we've wanted one of Julia's pieces for ages and during the writing of this piece I decided the Roe Buck needed to come home with me :-) Thank you Julia, she's lovely X

Back to blog