Visiting ‘Do You Bee-lieve?’ is always a unique experience, as the exhibition is totally reconstructed each year with a brand-new theme. Chris spends most of the year in her workshop sculpting, while Jule works on the stories and design of the exhibition but, when the two come together to set the exhibition up, the ladies generally spend approximately 600 hours assembling everything!
Many new props are created each year so, there’s never a shortage of paint, glue and glitter on-hand to make it all happen and Jule’s husband Steven, often gets called on to construct some of the bigger pieces. Even though most of the exhibition is planned in advance, much of it evolves spontaneously, when the two ladies come together to play. Both Chris and Jule love to recycle, salvage and repurpose household items and throw-away goods so, don’t be surprised if you ever see them fossiking around in junk piles.
The ladies use all sorts of amazing things to create the ‘wow factor’ and they love it when visitors to the exhibition are heard to ‘gasp in delight’ upon entering the space. They are constantly humbled and pleasantly surprised at the level of admiration and gratitude that is bestowed upon them, by their visitors.
When asked how to describe their exhibition to ‘first-time-visitors’, Jule says “It’s like being inside Christmas windows, with the magic happening all around you …. It’s not so much what you see though, that leaves the most lasting impression, it’s what you feel, because for each individual visitor the display invokes different emotions.” That’s why all visitors are encouraged to slow down … the slower that you go, the more things you will see and the more that you see, the more that you will begin to feel … the Spirit of Christmas!
Original Doll Artist Chris Boston has been sculpting her one-of-a-kind creations for more than 30 years and is now recognised as one of Australia’s most highly regarded artists in her chosen field, winning numerous awards along the way.
Each doll she creates, is genuinely unique and a product of her own imagination with the head, hands and feet all hand-sculpted from polymer clay and the clothes where possible, made of recyclable doilies, dresses and fabrics. It is often said that her dolls look so ‘real’ that they appear to be alive!
A passionate ‘greenie’ with a love of the Australian Bush, Chris Boston draws inspiration from nature to create her unique one-of-a-kind hand-sculpted dolls.
Nestled in the tree-tops in Bellbird Park, Queensland; you will discover Chris’ quaint little workshop over-flowing with all sorts of treasures that she has collected, including old dance costumes, tattered laces and even pieces of fabric rescued from the side of the road. Inspired by a childhood filled with wonderful make-believe stories from her father, Chris is passionate about creating the whimsical, little characters that spring readily into her mind and with a keen sense of observation, Chris is also inspired by the places she visits and the people that she meets.
Chris usually begins by sculpting the faces from polymer clay, allowing each character to develop his (or her) own personality. Once she has completed the face, she sculpts the hands and feet and then she starts making the wire armature for the body. The body is wrapped in wadding to give it substance before attaching the polymer clay body parts and the next step is to clothe the doll. Finally, the doll is embellished and that part is always tricky for her, to know when to stop!
Way back in the early days, Chris took a few porcelain doll classes to learn the basics of how to assemble a doll but for the most part, she is self-taught. She believes that, you have to have that ‘tingle’ when creating, it’s the tingle that keeps you going, it gives you the desire to create and to see what eventuates when you allow yourself the time to play.
Chris’s most memorable exhibition would have to be her first ‘solo’ exhibition which was held at Gallery D in Montville, Queensland. It was a gathering of ‘notsoblings’ (the name that she gives her dolls), where they came together to discuss the negative impact that the human race was having on the under-story in their forests and their world. Chris has an enormous respect for the environment and often creates a piece to make a statement and to encourage people to think about the consequences of their actions. Quite often her characters are inspired by someone or something that stirs a passionate response in her.
In a perfect world, Chris would be able to showcase ‘The Under-Story’ of the Australian Environment in a permanent location, where the public could see her beloved characters and learn about the impact, that each of us has on the world around us.
Visual Display Artist and Whimsical Dreamer, Jule Barten is the co-creator of Do You Bee-lieve?, a Magical Christmas Wonderland Exhibition.
The inspiration for the exhibition initially came from a dream, where she imagined the fairies and elves making all of the sweet things for the whole, wide world.
Previously, she had already done several exhibitions with her friend, Original Doll Artist Chris Boston, and in that dream where ‘Lollipop Land’ came to light; Jule instantly knew that, Chris would be able to create the characters that she had in her mind.
As a child, Jule remembers how exciting it was to see snow for the first time in country Victoria and how much she loved visiting the Myer Christmas Windows each year as a child. The whole top floor of Myer Melbourne was a wondrous world of enchantment for a little girl who was seriously attracted to glitter and sparkle so, this new world that had evolved from her vivid imagination, was not that far away from the one that she already knew.
Away from creating her annual Christmas Exhibition, Jule has a website www.whimsicalimaginings.com.au as well as several Facebook Pages to manage. She holds craft classes and also creates hundreds of flower hair garlands each year for the Abbey Medieval Festival and even does the occasional event- styling too.... the list goes on and on.... Are you exhausted yet?
Asked what job she wanted to do when she grew up, Jule responds “I think I secretly always just wanted to be a fairy and I really do believe that my job in life is to make people happy. My saying on my website is - Awaken your heart and follow your dreams, so I think that I am doing just that.”
Jule believes that it is important for people to use their imaginations... because dreams make wonderful realities and in the words of Albert Einstein “Logic will get you from A to B but, imagination will take you everywhere!” Jule genuinely believes that, the only thing that stops people from creating is their fear of failure, so she tends to jump off the virtual cliff often, delving into new worlds and trying different things.
Jule shares her home at Mt Mee with her husband of forty-three years and enjoys the peaceful lifestyle and tranquil surroundings. A nature lover at heart, she takes great comfort in soaking up the beautiful views and waking to the sound of bird-song each day. It’s the Mt Mee lifestyle that provides the balance to her other-wise crazy world and as an avid cloud-watcher, she can often be found out in the paddock with a camera in her hand looking up. In Jule’s perfect world, everyone would be able to experience the Spirit of Christmas all-year-round. With no time to take long holidays, escaping into her Magical Worlds and playing with the Faeries, is the next best thing!
‘Do You Bee-lieve?’ is always an undercover air-conditioned event, with cafes located nearby, disabled access; Eftpos facilities and an on-site gift shop.
Non-believers pay double!