Killdie’s Art Deals With Dark Religion, Universal Love and Crystals

Don’t let the name or subject matter put you off. Chatting to the Sydney artist is surprisingly life affirming.

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10 October 2018, 6:22am

This article is supported by Baron Samedi Spiced. In this series , Dark Arts, we profile artists who celebrate the night in their practice.

Kyle Montgomery goes by the name Killdie, which, joke or not, alludes to an element of darkness in his artwork. With hollowed religious iconography, dissected taxidermy, and crystal transplants — often showcased under neon crucifixes, on brutal plinths, and surrounded by candles — you wouldn't be too far off to assume a bit of a goth identity. But Montgomery promises, it's all about light and love.

To him, his work gently suggests the purity of rebirth and a return to earth; trust in the familiar and universal adoration. Though darkness does play a role in his life and work, it's literal rather than the expected spiritual. Montgomery has a fascination with the night sky, his preoccupation is evident in his older collage work which deals with outer space and fringe geography. But more broadly, he credits his perspective and ambition to a habit of staring into its endless shimmer.

You use religious iconography in some of your work, and your art has a gothness to it — do you find religion dark?
I feel like everything that is popular always has a dark side to it. I am aware what I do could be seen as goth but I don’t dwell on that because to me it is pure beauty and light and most people that connect with it see that too.

Are you religious?
I have been around religion in my life, just like most people, but I wouldn’t box myself into religion. I am religious but in another sense of the word — it’s hard to explain it, but it’s an energy and a natural way of life and thinking.

What draws you to the Mary figures?
They are so familiar to me and everyone in the world. A universal symbol of mother and nature and familiar trust. She can have a million reasons why people are attached to her, but I think that universal love draws me to her.

You also use a fair bit of taxidermy in your work, what’s the relationship between the animals and the religious icons?
I feel like it’s all about the rebirth of the soul and the physical body returning to nature. I feel like it’s very similar to the religious side of things in that way.

Speaking of rebirth, do you think much about the afterlife?
I am very excited by it. I just want to make sure to leave something in this life to be remembered by and to keep people happy and asking questions about life.

How does making art play into all of this?
Making art gives me purpose. It makes me feel like I am leaving behind something once I no longer am in this body. It gives me a connection with the world like nothing I have ever experienced. It has created amazing friendships and connections with people I would never have known before.

You also use crystals and semi-precious stones in your sculptures — are you into crystal healing?
I am into crystal healing and healing in general through nature. I am also into what information those crystals can hold within them about our universe.

Do you feel more creative during the day or night?
During the day, one hundred percent. I try my best to treat art like a job. I used to suffer from insomnia, but now I can sleep a full night and I take that very seriously!

That’s interesting, because your work feature the night's sky a lot.
I love stargazing. Just looking out there and getting a sense of how small you actually are and what other possibilities are out there is a beautiful thing to think about.

What do you hope to see when you look up at night?
I love shooting stars and UFOs, but it’s more and meditation, really, rather than actually seeing something in particular.

This whole chat has been very life affirming. I have to ask, where does the moniker Killdie come into all of this?
It was a joke name that made sense at the time and it kind of does now, but I am known as Killdie now so that’s fine I don’t mind. It’s way too late to change my Instagram handle now.

This article is supported by Baron Samedi Spiced, made with Caribbean Rum, spices, and natural flavours. You can find out more about it here. Drink responsibly.

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