Category Archives: Mexican Sugar Skulls

Skullavera showcases unique ceramic skulls at Melbourne’s Day of the Dead Festival

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All the skulls in the photographs are produced by Skullavera

Last Saturday, I attended a Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne that featured a range of hand crafted skulls, printed t-shirts, altars, traditional Aztec dancing, Mexican street food and face painting! The event was located at the Trust Bar and Restaurant in Flinders street that was full of visitors with their faces painted as the Mexican sugar skulls, it was fascinating as there were so many different patterns and designs!

It was interesting to see how each person had interpreted the Mexican sugar skulls, some had used colourful face paint while others had decided to go with a  minimalist approach. Furthermore, I did find the event particularly fascinating as I have never been to a Day of the Dead festival in Melbourne and the event was quite different to what I was expecting! At first the venue was rather crowded, although I throughly enjoyed watching visitors passing by with their sugar skull face paint!

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As I was walking through the venue, there was one stall that had captured my attention. There were a range of colourful and illustrative skulls that were displayed onto a wooden surface along with a selection of skeletal figurines including Frida Kahlo and Marlyin Monroe. These hand crafted skulls featured elaborate and decorative designs that are quite unique compared to the other ceramic skulls that I have seen throughout the city of Melbourne.

These incredible hand crafted skulls are produced by a company known as Skullavera that is currently based in Sydney, Australia. BME Melbourne have conducted an interview with the artist who explains that the skulls are inspired by Chicano / latino tattoo designs as well as “the Mexican Drug Cartels.” 1 Each skull features a completely different style, there were so many different patterns, designs and illustrations, in fact the stall at the Day of the Dead celebration was definitely vibrant and decorative.

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In a way, the artist applies a unique and distinctive style to the ceramic skulls, the level of detail and craftsmanship is incredible! The illustrations provides each skull with a unique characteristic, these models appear to have an individual personality, a personal style!

While there were bright and colourful designs available, there were other skulls that featured a range of black and while illustrations, the stall at the Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne featured some extraordinary ceramic skulls in all different shapes and sizes, I was seriously tempted to buy one for myself!

The official Skullavera blog does mention that the hand crafted skulls are inspired by the Day of the Dead celebration; from a personal perspective the ceramic skulls do feature both Mexican and European influences, there are various designs that do remind me of Western popular culture. 2 The way the skulls were displayed do feature similarities to a traditional Mexican altar that is usually installed during the Day of the Dead in order to welcome spirits to the celebration, as referenced by Maria Herrera Sobek. 3

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In fact the display in general was creative and inspiring, it was seriously hard to walk past the stall without taking a dozen photos, I was in awe for at least 30 minutes, I just could not take my eyes off these hand crafted skulls! I f you haven’t seen Skullavera’s work, then I would strongly suggest to visit the Facebook page or the blog, there is some incredible work displayed online.

For those who have never even heard of this Day of the Dead Celebration in Melbourne, I would recommend buying a ticket for next year! As if you can go wrong with beer, tequila, nachos and ceramic skulls all in the same venue? While the event itself was crowded to begin with, the works on display were definitely worth seeing!

1. BME Melbourne, “Skullavera Interview”, June 28th 2013, http://www.bmemelbourne.com/bmeinterviews/skullavera-interview/ (accessed 5/11/13)
2.  Skullavera Official Blog, http://skullavera.blogspot.com.au/ (accessed 5/11/13)
3. Sobek, Maria Herrera (ed) “Altars” in Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Cultural Traditions, Volume 1 (California: ABC – CLIO, 2012) http://books.google.com.au/books?id=bDIwZ8BieWcC&pg=PA423&dq=traditional+mexican+altars+
celebration+latino+folklore&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6hR6UpbuJMO2kgWqh
4GwCg&ved=0CDA
Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=traditional%20mexican%20altars%20
celebration%20latino%
20folklore&f=false

Other References:

https://www.facebook.com/Skullavera73

http://skullavera.bigcartel.com/

http://www.dotdfestival.com.au/


Posters and Billboards for the Future Music Festival

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4/2/13 – Skulls used to Promote one of Melbourne’s Most Popular Music Festival. 

Over the past few weeks I have recognised advertisements around Melbourne, promoting the Future Music Festival at Flemington Race Course. I have noticed banners, posters and billboards around the city, where the skull has been used as the logo. The festival will feature a Day of the Dead theme; most of the advertisements do feature bright, bold and vibrant colours that also compliment the skulls and the skeletons that reappear within the advertisements.Every year there is a different theme for the Future Music Festival; this is a very clever marketing strategy as you wouldn’t attend the same old festival every year.

Even the website is visually interesting, there are skulls left right and centre! The website is certainly up to date with the recent trends and styles, as the skull is very popular at the moment. A few months ago, I noticed a few A4 sized posters attached to lamp posts and now I’m beginning to see giant billboards all over the city, where the skull has become completely unavoidable. So I have been to one music festival before and you can visit various bands playing at different stages; it is fairly interesting as you can quickly move from one band to the other without waiting for an extended period of time.

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It’s interesting to see how the festival use certain elements from the Day of the Dead Festival; the various colours patterns and designs do remind me of this particular celebration. The Day of the Dead theme definitely works well with the music festival and the event usually contains lots of drinking, singing and dancing. I do have one question in mind when I view the advertisements; has the skull lost it’s symbolic meaning? In a way yes, in these particular advertisements the typography actually distorts the shape of the skull to the extent where you could misinterpret the skull as something completely different. Needless to say, the skull does compliment the Day of the Dead theme; the typography also adds an interesting effect to the shape of the skull and the advertisements definitely captures my attention from the opposite side of the road.

It’s hard not to notice the advertisements, all the different colours immediately jump out at you! The advertisements are very well designed, although you need innovative designs in order to promote such a good lineup! There’s Ellie Golding, Dizzee Rascal, The Prodigy, Rudimental and many more!

For more information please click on the link below.

http://www.futureentertainment.com.au/futuremusicfestival/melbourne/