Category Archives: Sculpture / Object Design

Skulls for Valentine’s Day

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Heart of Skulls: Catacombs Paris by Photography Trey Radcliff

Today is Valentine’s day and I’ve decided to list a range of interesting designs / 3-dimensional works that I’ve discovered this week. Who wouldn’t enjoy a skull shaped love heart or a box of delicious chocolate skulls? Well, I would definitely enjoy anything related to chocolate and skulls, this is the perfect combination! So here is a short list featuring my recent discoveries, enjoy! The post reveals three different designs or works that have depicted the skull within an artistic format for Valentine’s day or love in general.

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#1 Noah Scalin: Happy Skullentine’s Day

The name summaries the work perfectly! Noah Scalin has transformed this bright, red chocolate box into a skull and the colours are just magnificent. I would just love one of these skull chocolate boxes for myself as a souvenir. Scalin has created a project known as, Skull-A-Day and the artist has created a series of skulls from everyday materials or objects.1

According to Scalin’s blog, the project emerged in 2007, where the artist decided to produce a skull per day for an entire year or 365 days. If you’re a skull enthusiast, I would highly recommend following Scalin’s blog, Facebook or Twitter page. There are so many creative and inspiring designs to go through; during the second year of the project, Scalin received submissions from dedicated followers or skull enthusiasts on a daily basis as referenced by the artist’s blog.2

This particular work was created in 2008 for Skull-A-Day, which is quite a long time ago, although I do admire the artist’s dedication towards the project. It’s quite amazing to see Scalin’s work develop into an Internet sensation and the artist has created a book dedicated to this wonderful project that you can purchase online. Click on the link below for further details.

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#2 Joshua Harker: “Til Death do us Part”

These 3-dimensional works are admirable and the overall meaning / significance is very captivating. These intricate sculptures feature the characteristics of a skull within the shape of a love heart that are juxtaposed with an arrow, an anchor and a ring.

According to Joshua Harker’s website, the project represents the “bittersweet experience of love and loss,” and the skull becomes a reminder of death, the end of life as well as “living in the present.” All the elements have a relevant connection to these significant ideas / concept and you can read the statement through the Harker’s website.3

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Harker uses 3D printing in order to construct his detailed, yet imaginative works that are transformed into a three-dimensional object and the process is explained in further detail through the artist’s webpage.4 Harker’s work is inspiring and the intricate patterns / designs provide an artistic perspective in regards to love, death and mortality.

You can purchase these wonderful works through Harker’s online store and I must admit, these sculptures would make a beautiful gift for Valentine’s day! In some of my previous posts, I have discussed the works of Joshua Harker, click here to view Part I and Part II. While Harker’s design is fastidious and technical compared to Scalin’s work, I do admire the overall production behind the 365 Skull-A-Day project including the skulls, the blog and the social media sites; it was rather difficult to decide which one to discuss fist, as Harker and Scalin produce some marvellous work!

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#3 Vegan Treats: Fatally Yours

While I was searching through the Internet, I discovered a very interesting company known as, Vegan Treats who have produced a range of intricate chocolates featuring the shape of a skull that also includes a pair of hands, torsos, skeletal bones and coffins. This isn’t your ordinary box of chocolates!

According to the Vegan Treats Website, the company was founded by Danielle Konya who began to create a range of cakes and desserts that are vegan and “cruelty free.” Konya’s deserts attracted attention from “NYC, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia” and Konya has won various awards for the ‘Vegan Treats Bakery.’ This is quite a remarkable achievement, as the deserts don’t contain any milk, eggs or butter.5

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Personally, I haven’t tried any Vegan desserts, although I’m constantly advised by friends and families that they taste delicious. I do prefer consuming chocolate that’s made from milk or other animal byproducts, although I’m willing to try these Vegan Chocolates, as I would love to see these intricate, eligible skulls in person plus I would love to try these chocolates in order to develop my own opinion.

In regards to the product design for the chocolate box, I personally believe that the gold clashes with the black, although the chocolates feature a very creative, yet fascinating style that does make me feel hungry from time to time and that’s the most important part! ‘Fatally Yours’ would make the perfect gift for any occasion including Valentine’s day, what isn’t there to love about skulls and chocolate, the thought is just too overwhelming for me. Skullspiration have published a fantastic article in relation to Konya’s vegan treats that’s definitely worth viewing as well.

So here are my top recommendations and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Valentine’s day, I shall return very shortly with another skull related post, bye for now!

References

1.Noah Scalin, “247 Valentine’s Day,” Feb 5, 2008, (Accessed 14/2/15) http://goo.gl/StcrXV
2.Noah Scalin, “About,” (Accessed 14/2/15) http://skulladay.blogspot.com.au/p/about.html
3.Joshua Harker, “Til Death Do Us Part,” (Accessed 14/2/15) http://www.joshharker.com/blog/?page_id=3066
4.Joshua Harker, “About,” (Accessed 14/2.15) http://www.joshharker.com/blog/?page_id=2
5.Vegan Treats Bakery, “About Us,” (Accessed 14/2/15) http://vegantreats.com/about-us/


Shogyo Mujo by Joshua Harker & Bartkresa Design

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Shogyo Mujo by Joshua Harker and Bartkresa Design at Adobe Max

Last week, I discovered this amazing video clip featuring a range of creative and artistic designs that were projected onto a large, three-dimensional skull. Artist, Joshua Harker and Bartkresa Design have developed a project known as, Shogyo Mujo that creates a very creative, yet dynamic experience within a three / four-dimensional format.1 If only I was able to view the skull in person, now that would be one fantastic experience worth travelling to! I was completely fascinated with this colourful, three-dimensional skull and I decided to explore the project’s overall development, the design and the concept behind Shogyo Mujo.

In reference to the Shogyo Mujo website, this remarkable sculpture “represents the 1st of the 3rd marks of Dharma which suggests that all things are impermanent.”2 At first, the sculpture was produced for the Burning Man Festival in Nevada and the overall structure including the materials were designed to burn towards the end of the festival, as referenced by Dan Cowles article via the Adobe website.

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Cowles explains that the choice of the materials as well as the unfortunate weather conditions increased the level of difficulty or complexity in regards to the overall installation. In fairness, the three-dimensional skull including the projections were very impressive despite all of the previous challenges or set backs. There is a very compelling video clip on the Adobe website that does explain the overall production of Shogyo Mujo and it is amazing to see a very large production team collaborate together in order to establish a very large-scale installation.

Cowles suggests that the sculpture was designed to burn or disintegrate for the Burning Man Festival, although I’m struggling to search for a video clip or some photographs which displays the skull burning into flames. The burning skull relates to the notion of impermanence; a clearly visibly structure is deconstructed or dismantled into something irreparable. In fact, the project has invited me to explore the idea that life is impermanent and everyone will eventually die, our bodies will decay, the skin on our bones will eventually disintegrate until there is nothing left except for our skeletal remains. I know this sounds pretty morbid right now, although the sculpture allows me to consider my impermanent existence within the world.

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Cowles briefly mentions that the ‘Shogyo Mujo’ was displayed at the Adobe Max in Los Angeles with a full “360 degree projection” and the sculpture received a very positive reaction from the audience. I would highly recommend watching the video clip, the different patterns and designs are sensational, they definitely work well within a public setting.There is a drastic improvement in terms of the execution and the ‘360 degree projection’ does add a sense of depth to the overall sculpture. I do admire the team’s effort to expand or push the project in order to reach its full potential.

The video clip exposes the overall process, the difficulties the constraints, the achievements and the final result; watching the development or the process does add a level of interest to the project. It is great to see a colourful, yet vibrant skull within the public sphere, this giant structure is transformed into a subject of beauty and creativity. In reference to Cowler, there are plans to create a “50-foot skull” and it is interesting to listen to the upcoming projects or ambitions from the design team in the Adobe video clip.3

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The project provides a unique perspective in regards to the image of the skull through a 12-foot, three dimensional structure along with a series of artistic, yet eclectic projections. I do prefer the concept behind the Burning Man Festival, where the skull would be burnt or destroyed through fire, although the execution at the Adobe Max was suburb! The project also provides a different perspective that challenges the viewer’s interpretation of the overall work. According to Joshua Harker’s website, “the project is an exploration into creating art in 4-dimensions: 1D point in space where the event occurs (lat & long), 2D projection patterns, 3D sculpture, 4D animated projections & the event as they occur in realtime.”4 This is the most exciting aspect of the project, the viewer is exposed to an elaborate project within a four-dimensional context; while Shogyo Mujo features a technical process, the artistic elements within the work are admirable!

Joshua Harker does create a range of sculptural works featuring the shape of the skull through the use of digital software including a 3D printer in order to produce a ‘tangible’ structure, as referenced by the artist’s website.5 If you have an interest for skulls, I would recommend visiting Harker’s online portfolio the collection of work is impressive! In a way, Shogyo Mujo does extend upon this particular concept at very large scale; in the Adobe video clip, Dylan Roscover explains that the digital form becomes a ‘tangible object’ that is introduced to an “analogue space.”6 The project successfully combines the use of technology and art in order to create a large, 3D skull that features a very distinctive approach towards the overall display or presentation of the installation.

Make sure to check out the Shogyo Mujo Facebook page for further details! Images are sourced from the Bartkresa Design Website and the Shogyo Mujo Linked in page.

References

1. Harker, Joshua, “Shogyo Mujo,” (Accessed 4/2/14) http://www.joshharker.com/blog/?page_id=4101
2. Shogyo Mujo Official Website, “Nothing is Permanent,” (Accessed 4/2/14) http://www.shogyomujo.org/ 
3. Cowles, Dan, “Shogyo Mujo,” Adobe (Accessed 4/2/14) http://inspire.adobe.com/2014/11/25/art_on_the_playa_shogyo_mujo.html
4. Harker, Joshua, “Shogyo Mujo”
5. Harker, Joshua, “About,” (Accesed 4/2/14) http://www.joshharker.com/blog/?page_id=2
6. Roscover, Dylan in Adobe Inspire Video Clip by Dan Cowles (Accessed 4/2/14) http://inspire.adobe.com/2014/11/25/art_on_the_playa_shogyo_mujo.html


Interview with Rubèn Pàmies, Kpavio

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Tzantza Cerebrum, Rubèn Pàmies: Kpavio

About a couple of months ago, I discovered a unique collection of work by an artist / sculptor named Rubèn Pàmies aka Kpavio who has created a range of remarkable, three-dimensional skulls that explore the notion of ‘life and time’ through individual watch pieces as well as other distinctive materials. I have conducted an interview with Kpavio in order to discover the processes, methods and techniques that are used to create these fascinating, yet mesmerising skulls!

Black Calavera: Where did the name Kpavio originate from?
Kpavio: It means ‘skull’ in Greek and I use it as my artistic pseudonym.

Black Calavera: How long have you been working on Kpavio?
Kpavio: I have been working on Kpavio for the last four years.

Black Calavera: Is there anything in particular that has inspired you to explore the relationship between
life and the passage of time?
Kpavio: Well, I have always been interested in the passage of time, maybe that is the reason why I dedicated more than 25 years to the world of watchmaking and now I am exploring that relationship through my sculptures.

Black Calavera: I have noticed that the skull is frequently used within your sculptural projects, is there anything that has inspired you to use the skull as a visual art form?
Kpavio: To date, all of my sculptures have a skull as the base because I have always been attracted to the world of skulls and I think they are a good way to explore the connection between life and the passage of time.

Black Calavera: How do you use the skull in your work?
Kpavio: I acquire them and then I personalise them, sometimes with paint, sometimes with a denture, until now I always use some pieces of watchmaking.

Black Calavera: Where do you acquire the skulls from? are they real?
Kpavio: The skulls are replicas, some of them are old and in most cases, made of plaster cast. I buy them and then I use them as the base of my creations, some of them are old replicas while others are modern.

Black Calavera: How long does it take for you to create one of these sculptures?
Kpavio: It depends on the piece, when I acquire the skull there is a process of study in which I explore the possibilities of the piece and decide its theme. After that, I start the process of creation that depends on the complexity of the final result I want to achieve.

Black Calavera: Is there a project that you have enjoyed the most?
Kpavio: No, all of them have been very enriching.

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Pirate Time, Rubèn Pàmies: Kpavio

Black Calavera: Has your practice or style changed over time?
Kpavio: Well, I am always exploring new themes and materials to work with.

Black Calavera: How has your interest in fine watchmaking influenced your work?
Kpavio: It plays a great role in my work, as I always use watchmaking pieces in my sculptures.

Black Calavera: Is there a specific type of watch that you prefer to use within your work?
Kpavio: No, I use all kind of pieces although the movements are very useful for me.

Black Calavera: Is there any significance behind the pieces that you use from the watch?
Kpavio: It depends, sometimes I want to use a particular piece, like a movement within a specific part of the skull because I want to express a concrete idea. In other occasions I use a little piece because it fits perfectly within the part of the skull that I am working with.

Black CalaveraBesides watches, are there any other materials that you enjoy working with?
Kpavio: I am always open to exploring different materials in my artworks.

Black Calavera: Are there any artists / sculptors that have inspired your work?
Kpavio: I like many artists and distinct currents, I have been interested in the work of Banksy, whom I admire his creative and provocative ability, especially the fact that he wishes to remain anonymous.

Black Calavera: Do you have any future plans for upcoming projects / exhibitions?
Kpavio: I have a lot of future projects, but time will tell if they could become a reality.

Black Calavera: Do you have any advise for practicing or emerging artists?
Kpavio: I would tell them that if art is their passion, to fully engage in it no matter the difficulties they might encounter

Check out Kpavio’s website or Facebook if you would like to learn more about the works!

http://www.kpavio.com/en

https://www.facebook.com/kpavio


Mickael Alacoque’s Sculptural Works present a Playful, Colourful and Eccentric Aesthetic.

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 Prince Charming, Mickael Alacoque, 2008

Just a few moments ago, I discovered quite an unusual body of work by Mickael Alacoque, an artist / sculptor based in the United Kingdom who has created a series of sculptures that feature a bizarre, yet distinctive visual aesthetic. Alacoque’s ‘Bad Babysitters’ features a range of three-dimensional works that successfully combine three individual components including a human skull, two melting ice-cream cones and the body of a small canine, as referenced by Skullspiration. 1

I remember feeling that overwhelming sense of bewilderment as I continued to stare at this pink, fluorescent statue with the two ice-cream cones protruding from the forehead of the skull. Alacoque’s Prince Charming features quite an obscure appearance, although the work features a high level of detail and intricacy that is combined with an element of spontaneity.

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Etruria and Florence, Alacoque, 2010

This particular work motivated me to undertake some further research into the artist’s own influences or inspirations. A Gallery presents an interesting statement by Alacoque who explains his previous training or expertise within “figurative sculpture and mould making,” as well as his interest in public monuments. The artist explores these traditional techniques within an artistic, contemporary context through the use of vibrant colours and iconic symbols. 2

Alacoque obscures the way the ‘public statue’ is interpreted or examined within society and the sculptural works present quite a unique, imaginative style through the use of bright, fluorescent colours and textures. The melting ice-cream cones, the grimacing skull and the canine’s body feature a refined, yet detailed structure that are combined in order to create a completely different meaning or interpretation all together.

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Alacoque, Mitty, 2008

In regards to Alacoque’s statement from AGallery, “Gnome Kone and Bad Babysitter are part of a series of sculptures that are concerned with a playfully sinister bastardization of familiar objects.” 3

These sculptures in particular are often described as unsettling when they are viewed up close, however I don’t necessarily find them disturbing, in fact I find the Bad Babysitter series rather amusing or entertaining. From a personal perspective, the compositional elements present a playful, humorous and satirical disposition that successfully provide quite a memorable impression.

If you are interested in Alacoque’s eccentric works, I would recommend visiting the links listed below for further details.

References

1. Skullspiration, “Skull Sculptures by Mikael Alacoque,” http://www.skullspiration.com/skull-sculptures-by-mikael-alacoque/

2. Mikael Alacoque, Artist’s Statement, A Gallery, http://www.agallery.co.uk/gallery/mikael_alacoque.php

3. Alacoque, Artist’s Statement, A Gallery

Other References

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mikael-Alacoque/31318213675  (Images are sourced from Facebook Page)

https://twitter.com/MikaelAlacoque


Extraordinary Three Dimensional Skulls by Alain Bellino

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Alain Bellino, Vie de Chateau

Yesterday, I discovered the works of Alain Bellino, an artist / sculptor based in France who has successfully transformed a range of antiques and ornaments into these magnificent three-dimensional skulls. At first, I was immediately impressed by the level of detail and craftsmanship; Bellino’s sophisticated, yet perplexing designs provide a unique approach towards sculpting and metal restoration.

According to Bellino’s Behance website, the artist initially explored ornamentation and metal restoration in the 1980’s; Bellino applies these intricate materials with his own distinctive style in order to create a series of extraordinary, yet imaginative works of art.

The Renaissance period and the Vanitas have inspired the artist’s work that successfully combines a traditional European style with a modern, contemporary design. Bellino meticulously wields certain metals including Bronze, Silver and Gold in order to create a collection of inspiring, three-dimensional works, as referenced by the artist’s Behance site.

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There are two works in particular that immediately captured my attention, the first one features a delicately, hand-crafted skull that features a range of creative, eclectic designs. The sculpture also features a castle that is attached to the very top of the skull; now this particular element is remarkably impressive to say the least!

I decided to view the image from a closer perspective and the skull is constructed from a range of floral patterns and designs; from a personal perspective Bellino’s sculpture successfully explores the concept of death. While the idea of fatality is imminent within Bellino’s work, the sculpture itself doesn’t necessarily feature a grim or grotesque representation. This is just my own interpretation anyway, I’m sure there are plenty of other meanings associated with this particular work.

Voyage is another fabulous sculpture produced by Bellino that features a detailed, intricate ship along with a silvery, monochromatic skull. The work is rather surreal and the detail is phenomenal, viewing this particular sculpture in person would be an incredible experience.

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Bellino, Voyage

Every time I view the skull, I recognise something different or something I never even realised before. Take the key holes for instance, I never even recognised this fine detail until I decided to view the work for the second time, Voyage always has something unique to offer to the audience.

One could argue that Bellino’s Voyage, demonstrates the artist’s fascination with Renaissance art that is combined with a series of unusual designs. I can’t possibly imagine how long it would have taken Bellino to produce this particular work, it would be very interesting to find out!

Now I have mentioned two particular works that I have found inspiring, however I have recently discovered another image featuring a golden arrow impaling a bright, red apple that are both placed onto the top of a metallic skull. The colours significantly contrast with one another and the apple becomes a strong focal point; each individual detail delivers a very unique element that is almost impossible to forget!

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Bellino, Successful 

As you can see, Alain Bellino has created some fabulous works, if you are interested in viewing the artist’s portfolio, click on the links below for further information. Justina Bakutyte has written a very interesting article in regards to the works of Alain Bellino that is definitely worth reading, just check out the link below.

References

Alian Bellino, “About” https://www.behance.net/sculpteur

Alian Bellino, Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alain-Bellino-sculpture/336728229684306

Justina Bakutyte, “Extremely Detailed Steampunk – Inspired Bronze Sculptures by Alain Bellino,” July 3, 2014, Beautiful Decay, http://beautifuldecay.com/2014/07/03/extremely-detailed-steampunk-inspired-bronze-sculptures-alain-bellino/

Skull Appreciation Society, “Sculptures by Alain Bellino,” January  2 2014, http://skullappreciationsociety.com/sculptures-alain-bellino/


Bright, Colourful and Intricate Skulls by Marie-Pascale Gautheron

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While I was browsing through the internet, I discovered the works of Marie-Pascale Gautheron, a contemporary artist based in Paris who creates a series of hand crafted skulls with delicate, vibrant and intricate designs. Every minuscule detail is highlighted through a combination of bold colours or decorative patterns that compliments the shape and the contour of the skull.

These sculptural works in particular reminded me of the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration and the sugar skulls, however these quirky designs feature a unique, psychedelic twist. In regards to the Skull Appreciation Society, Gautheron uses the skull as a visual art form that are either drawn or hand painted and I was immediately intrigued by the high level of craftsmanship.

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As I continued to browse through Gautheron’s online portfolio, I discovered a series of neon skulls and the paint successfully creates a very interesting, yet surreal effect. I decided to ask Gautheron about these delicate neon skulls and the artist explained that the works feature a “special paint that reacts to light.” This is definitely a fascinating method / process that instantly invites the viewer to take a closer look at the works.

These skulls in particular are quite different to anything I have seen before and Gautheron uses the skull frequently throughout her work in order to create a series of decorative and artistic murals. From a personal perspective, these eclectic skulls portray the concept of death and mortality in a positive, cheerful manner through the combination of vibrant colours and innovative designs.

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There is another sculptural project that immediately captured my attention, Gautheron has constructed a skull from paper that features a highly detailed, realistic aesthetic; the work itself delivers so many different interpretations that successfully invites the audience to view the skull from another angle or perspective.

The skull features a drawing of an octopus holding a skull with its tentacles; this is rather interesting as the skull features a smaller image of a skull. This is quite a clever concept / idea and Gautheron’s work delivers a surreal, yet fascinating experience.

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If you are interested in skulls or contemporary art, I would highly recommend visiting the artist’s website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page. The Skull Appreciation Society also features a very interesting article in regards to the works of Marie-Pascale Gautheron that is definitely worth viewing!

References

http://mpgautheron.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mpgautheron

http://instagram.com/mpgautheron

https://twitter.com/mpgautheron

The Skull Appreciation Society, September 22nd 2014, Marie – Pascale Gautheron http://skullappreciationsociety.com/marie-pascale-gautheron/

Saatchi Art, Marie-Pascale Gautheron, 2014, http://www.saatchiart.com/mpgautheron

Illustrated Monthly, Marie-Pascale Gautheron, http://illustratedmonthly.tumblr.com/post/97929098769/rad-skull-art-by-marie-pascale-gautheron


Brook Andrew: Vox Tasmania at the National Gallery of Victoria

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Human Skull & the Gramophone in Vox Tasmania – Brook Andrew

Yesterday I decided to search through all of my photographs that I have taken over the past year and it’s surprising what you will actually find! I found one photo in particular that immediately captured my attention and I began to wonder why I left this image on my SD card for so long.

In February 2014, I remember visiting the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that explored Melbourne’s artistic and cultural diversity. According to the official NGV website, the Melbourne Now exhibition featured a range of contemporary works including visual arts, sculpture, graphic design, architecture and performance art.

I was fascinated with one installation in particular entitled ‘Vox: Tasmania’ by Brook Andrew, a contemporary artist born in Sydney whose work depicts certain issues relating to culture, identity and colonialism, as referenced by the NGV website. On Brook Andrew’s WordPress Site, the artist specifically mentions his ‘Australian indigenous / Scottish’ heritage that may feature a connection towards the artist’s work. 

According to Andrew’s WordPress Page, ‘Vox Tasmania’ features a range of books, photographs, images and artefacts that reflect the treatment of the indigenous community in Australia during the 19th century.

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Human Skeleton within Vox Tasmania – Brook Andrew

In reference to the NGV, Andrew’s work is based upon the research and documentation conducted by Richard Berry; an autonomist who collected indigenous remains from Tasmania in order to thoroughly analyse this particular race. The skulls were often used as possessions or trophies and the remains were used for other ‘scientific purposes.’

The installation also features a large, intricate gramophone that is placed next to the wunderkammer; according to Andrew, the gramophone amplifies the way these indigenous remains were perceived or valued back in the 1990’s. As I peered through the gramophone, I recognised a human skull enclosed within a glass container and the installation does provide a very interesting perspective.

From a personal perspective, the gramophone does create distance between the viewer and the skull; it was as if I was viewing the installation from the other side of the gallery space. Once I continued to walk around the installation, I suddenly realised how close I was standing to the wunderkammer. The work itself creates an illusion, to me the installation did create quite a surreal experience.

As I began to walk around the installation, I immediately discovered an entire human skeleton carefully and delicately rearranged within the container. This is definitely my favourite section and I couldn’t take my eyes off the skeleton, I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a real human skull before, well I haven’t actually seen one in the flesh before.

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Photograph Two – Human Skeleton in the Wunderkammer

The human skull reflects a moment in time, a moment in history that is almost impossible to forget. The installation has invited me to question whom the remains to belong to and the actual cause of death, the mistreatment towards the indigenous population stares the viewer right in the face!

The installation was confronting and the skull initiates ideas relating to death or mortality and I began to wonder what happens to our remains once we die? Would our bones last forever or would they eventually disintegrate?

The work itself does provide quite a confronting experience, although I was intrigued by the overall subject matter. While I couldn’t take my eyes off the skeleton I was also quite disturbed by these historical moments and the way these remains were treated.

The installation also features a range of books, images and photographs that also coincides with the human skeleton. It’s interesting to see how these different elements connect to each other in some way. As I continued to walk around the wunderkammer, I began to recognise the minor details that I failed to recognise at the very beginning, it was as if I was searching for the missing pieces for a jigsaw puzzle.

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Artefacts, Images and records within the installation 

Overall the Melbourne Now exhibition at the NGV was definitely worth the visit and the works on display were displayed in a unique, creative manner. Andrew’s ‘Vox Tasmania’ explores an intriguing yet confronting subject through a range of images, photos and historical artefacts including a real human skeleton!

The way the works were displayed was fascinating; although I was shocked to discover the way these remains were used for research or private collections. If you haven’t see Andrew’s work before I would definitely recommend visiting the artist’s WordPress page or the NGV website.

Photographs taken by Black Calavera – Charlotte Pridding

References

Melbourne Now: 22 Nov – 23 March 2014, “About the Exhibition,” National Gallery of Victoria, 2013, last modified 17/7/14, http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/melbournenow/about-melbourne-now

Melbourne Now: 22 Nov – 23 March 2014, “Meet the Artists: Brook Andrew,” last modified
17/7/14, National Gallery of Victoria 2013,
http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/melbournenow/artists/andrew

Melbourne Now: 22 Nov – 23 March 2014, Wall Text – Brook Andrew: Vox Tasmania, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Brook Andrew, “Planet Art: The Best Art from Around the World, June 2013, WordPress, last modified 17/7/14, https://brookandrew.wordpress.com/page/2/

Brook Andrew, “Researcher Profile,” Monash University 2014, http://www.monash.edu.au/research/people/profiles/profile.html?sid=51592&pid=4536


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/


Underwater Sculptures by artist Jason deCaires Taylor

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Jason deCaire’s version of La Diablesse from David Elliot’s article

Today a friend of mine posted a very interesting article onto my Facebook page, the photo was enough to capture my attention! Freelance writer, David Elliot explores a range of spectacular underwater sculptures produced by artist, Jason deCaires Taylor. In Grenada, visitors are invited to go scuba diving in order to view these three dimensional sculptures, this is by far the most unique idea / concept I have heard of!

In a way, Taylor is using the natural environment as an exhibition space, where visitors have to psychically submerge themselves into the Caribbean waters in order to witness Taylor’s unique body of work. According to Elliot, the artist’s collection features a range of unusual figures that depict ancient “Grenadian folklore”, although there was one sculpture that immediately captured my attention.

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Taylor’s Underwater Sea Sculptures

Elliot’s article features a photograph of ‘La Diablesse’, an uncanny female figure with a brimmed hat and a skeletal face, there is something quite unsettling about this particular figure, especially the dark eye sockets and the unusual facial expressions that provide quite a sinister appearance. Even the name sounds sinister and the figure reminds me of something you would normally see in a horror film!

I can imagine that this particular figure would certainly give someone quite the fright, I know I would be disturbed, yet intrigued if I ever decided to go scuba diving in Grenada! So I began to question, who is ‘La Diablesse’? I’ve always been interested in ancient mythology / folklore, although I haven’t even heard about ‘La Diablesse’ until I discovered Elliot’s article. 1

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Top View of La Diablesse, Photograph taken by Kiran Lall, 2006

In the ‘Encyclopedia of the African Dispora: Origins, Experiences and Culture’, Antonia MacDonald – Smythe describes this unusual figure as the “female devil”. There are many stories in ‘Caribbean folklore’ that were used to enforce good behaviour, these tales were also used warn others not to fall for a person based upon their physical appearance! 2

In comparison, Judika Illes from the ‘Encylopedia of Spirits’ explains that this attractive and alluring female figure would often isolate her victims within deserted areas, where they would be faced with death or immortality. 3

The victims finally witness the woman’s true appearance that is far from what they were expecting, instead they are faced with something rather deadly! Illes also mentions that ‘La Diablesse’ resembles certain characteristics to the human skull, I can see some of these ideas / concepts portrayed within Caire’s underwater sculpture!

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Front View Photograph of La Diablesse

Taylor’s version of ‘La Diablesse’ does remind me of the human skull, especially the figure’s pale facial complexion, the dark eye sockets and the jawline. The photograph is quite extraordinary, the blue and green hues also provide a rather interesting effect! The skeletal frame contrasts with the figure’s pale, ghostly face and the artist has chosen the perfect location for this particular sculpture.

The ocean does provide a sense of isolation and disembodiment that also adds to the figure’s dark and sinister nature! So I often wonder how the artist creates these underwater sculptures? Creating a sculpture is quite a challenging task, creating an underwater sculpture is taking things to a whole new level!

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Photography by Jason Taylor

According Taylor’s official website, these sculptures are produced by a range of materials that do not damage or harm the environment, in fact these sculptures are designed to assist with the development of underwater organisms. There is limited information in regards to the physical production of these underwater sculptures, just thought of developing a work of art under the ocean is definitely exciting! 4

I suppose the actual creation / production will remain a mystery, although I would definitely love to visit these sculptures one day. I would definitely recommend reading Elliots article or visit Jason deCaires Taylor’s website, the photographs will definitely inspiring and captivating! Hey if your feeling adventurous you could even visit the sculptures in Grenada, that would be a visit of a life time!

References:

1. Elliot, David, “La Diablesse and other sweet Grenadian Dreams”, WordPress Blog (Accessed 14/10/13), http://theromantictraveller.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/la-diablesse-and-other-sweet-grenadian-dreams/

2. Smythe, Antonia MacDonald & Davies, Carole Boyce ed. “La Diablesse” in the Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences and Culture, Volume 1 (California: ABC-CLIO, 2008) 
http://books.google.com.au/booksid=mb6SDKfWftYC&pg=PA381&
dq=La+Diablesse&hl=en

&sa=X&ei=yU9aUtbaBciriAffjYGQAg&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage
&q=La%20Diablesse&f=false

3. Illes, Judika, “Diablesse La” in the Encyclpedia of Sprits (New York: Harper Collins Books, 2009),
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=mb6SDKfWftYC&pg=PA381&dq=La+Diablesse
&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yU9aUtbaBciriAffjYGQAg&ved=0CC4Q6A
EwAA#v=onepage&q=La%20Diablesse&f=false


4. Jason deCaires Taylor, “Overview”, Jason deCaires Taylor Official Website, undated, http://www.underwatersculpture.com/about/overview/

Photo References

http://theromantictraveller.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/la-diablesse-and-other-sweet-grenadian-dreams/

http://www.macomag.com/featured_articles_dest_v4i1B.html

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/279856564318337224/

http://tinnong.vn/pages/20121003/ky-quan-tuong-nguoi-duoi-day-dai-duong-grenada.aspx

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/L2EAle9Hw476kaD7FtRgpg


Two New Beaded Skulls from Mexico

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Photography by Charlotte Pridding, 2013

On the day of my birthday, I received two small gifts from an authentic day of the dead store in Melbourne called Amor Y Locura. On the 22nd of September, I received two beaded skulls that feature intricate patterns and designs, the skulls were imported from Mexico and there were only two left in Australia, how how lucky is that?!

While visiting the Day of the Dead store in Melbourne, I was amazed by the two large beaded skulls on the very bottom shelf, the level of craftsmanship is remarkable! A customer within the store had advised me that these colourful beaded ornaments are also known as the huichol skull, I must admit I was intrigued by the name so I decided to undertake some online research.

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According to Lynne Bairstow, Huichol Art derives from many ancient traditions and rituals that were commonly practised amongst the aztecs. Bairstow explains that the patterns and the designs found in Huichol Art represent nature, these beaded sculptures often contain a strong association to various animals and plants.

In comparison Harald Prins and Dana Walrath in Cultural Anthroplogy: The Human Challenge also comment on the extraordinary designs found within Huichol art that also refer to the values and beliefs practised amongst the indigenous communities within Mexico. Prins and Walrath refer to Schaeffer & Furst in People of the Peyote : Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival, both authors explain that these particular designs refer to a “sacred plant” in Mexico also known as the “peyote”.

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The indigenous communities in Mexico also associated this particular plant with a deer that would deliver important messages to many of the “gods and goddesses”. It’s quite fascinating to actually discover that all of these designs have such a strong meaning / signification; these beaded sculptures certainly reflect Mexico’s cultural and spiritual heritage!

So what else did I discover? Well, I also discovered the works of Catherine Martin who was also inspired by Huichol art during her trip to Mexico, Martin has also spoken directly to some of the tribes who create these exquisite sculptures. According to LN-CC, Martin collaborates with these ancient tribes in order to produce colourful, vibrant and remarkable designs! This is a very unique idea as I’ve never really seen too many artists or designers appropriate the Huichol beaded sculptures, in fact I’ve never even heard of Huichol art until I visited the Day of the Dead store in Melbourne.

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I decided to take some photographs of the beaded skulls out in the backyard; I do find the patterns and designs particularly fascinating! The beads create a gradient around the eye sockets, the nose and the mouth, this also creates quite an interesting effect. Some of the patterns do resemble plants, animals and even flames that are located around the edge of the skull.

In a way the patterns remind me of an abstract landscape painting as strange as it sounds! The skull to the right has green along the bottom and the blue around the eye sockets reminds me of a river streaming along a field or a mountain; on the other hand, the white, orange and yellow remind me of a rising sunset. I suppose there would be various meanings and interpretations in relation to the beaded skulls, I must admit these sculptures do appear bright and colourful in the front living room, in fact they make fantastic ornaments for the house!

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So if you haven’t seen one of these beaded skulls before, I would definitely recommend visiting Amor Y Locura in Melbourne, Fitzory. It’s definitely worth the visit, especially if you would like to see these exquisite Huichol Skulls in the flesh!

References

Schaeffer. S.B & Furst P.T, People of the Peyote: Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival in Harold Prins and Diane Walrath’s,
Cultural Anthropology  : The Human Experience (California: Thomson Higher Education, 2008 – 2005, http://books.google.com.au/booksid=8WMGAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA331&dq=huichol+beaded

+art&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tf1LUpPqCIa3kAWF8oDgDg&ved=0CEYQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=
huichol%20beaded%20art&f=false

Baird, David & Bairstow, Lynne, Frommer’s Mexico (New Jersey: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2006) 
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=th1ehvI1hrwC&pg=PA303&dq=huichol+beaded+art&hl=
en&sa=X&ei=pk9RUrK3BqiZiQfaw4H4C

w&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=huichol%20beaded%20art&f=false

LN-CC, Interview with Catherine Martin, LN-CC, undated (accessed 4/10/13) 
http://www.ln-cc.com/en/restofworld/mens/interview-with-catherine-martin-our-exquisite-corpse/page/catherine-martin-int

http://www.ourexquisitecorpse.com/