Category Archives: Sculpture / Object Design

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/


‘Animate / Inanimate’ at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art

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Lin Tianmio’s installation at Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Photography by Mark Ashkanasy

A couple of months ago, I visited an exhibition at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art in the Yarra Ranges, ‘Animate / Inanimate’ is a group exhibition featuring the works of local and international artists; this extraordinary collection depicts the relationship between life and death through a range of large scale installations. According to Victoria Lynn in “Tarrawarra International, 2013”, the exhibition explores the connection between the animate and the inanimate, human and non human.

There was one installation in particular that immediately captured my attention, the very first gallery space features the works of Lin Tianmiao, a contemporary artist who has displayed a range of synthetic skulls that are covered in bright and colourful materials. The silk thread does provide an artistic effect that invites the spectator to view these three dimensional skulls from an entriely different perspective.

In the Western culture, the skull is normally perceived as a subject of fear, dread and anxiety, on the other hand, Lin Tianmiao uses bright and colourful silk thread that provides an artistic and innovative portrayal of death. In a way Tianmiao’s skulls become the subject of ‘beauty’ and simplicity as referenced by Anne Madeline in Art Almanac. Tianmiao’s synthetic skulls are combined with a range of inanimate objects, such as musical instruments and gardening tools that also feature a very unique composition.

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Reaction, 2013 Lin Tianmiao, Photo from Tarawarra Museum of Art

From a personal perspective, Tianmiao abstracts the original shape of the skull through a range of miscellaneous items; the installation explores how the human skull becomes an ephemeral object. The exhibition invites me to speculate upon the human form, the human body is ephemeral and nothing in life lasts forever, even when death occurs, the body continues to decomposes until there is absolutely nothing left.

Each sculpture is attached to the ceiling with a piece of thread, as I continued to walk around the gallery space, I suddenly began to notice that the skulls would gradually rotate. This is such an innovative idea, as this allows each visitor to view the skulls from a different angle or perspective; I actually enjoyed walking in-between each sculpture / installation, this also provided a very unique experience, you don’t often have the opportunity to stand relatively close to an original work of art, most of the time there’s always a glass window or a strip of red tape protecting the works on display.

The gallery lights are placed in various positions within the space, each installation features a unique shadow that also creates a range of unusual patterns and compositions. This also provides another dimension to Tianmiao’s installations, at first I was attracted to the bright pink synthetic skulls twirling around within the centre of the gallery space, I then discovered the shadows that are refelcted onto the gallery walls, in a way these abstract patterns become a separate work of art!

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Synthetic Bones displayed on the Wall – Lin Tianmiao, Photo by Yan Yuguang

On the other side of the gallery space, there were a range of synthetic bones that were also covered in multicoloured thread, these bones were attached at the very top of the wall in chronological order. The bones do increase in size from the entrance of the gallery all the way to the other side of the space, this also provides a rather unique composition!

I’m used to viewing artworks / installations at eye level so this was definitely a nice surprise, I had to tilt my head towards the very top of the gallery space in order to view the second installation, in fact the synthetic bones do feature a quite a unique proportion that also adds a very interesting effect to the overall exhibition. These synthetic bones are also wrapped in colourful thread, in a way the artist has created a gradient, a spectrum of colour that ‘abstracts’ the human form, as referenced by Victoria Lynn.

So the exhibition has also questioned whether the human form in both animate and inanimate, it’s quite an interesting theory when you think about it. Well, when we’re live, the body is animate, when the living body dies what does it become? In a way the skeletal remains become inanimate, they’re no longer apart of a living, breathing organism, the skull becomes a skull, it doesn’t move or run away anywhere, it’s a skull that becomes apart of all the other inanimate objects in the world, right? Yes, I know as strange as it all sounds!

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Photo from Tarrawarra museum of Art

This what I love about this exhibition, the works on display do invite me to speculate about the human form, about my own physical existence. It’s one thing to actually view a sculpture or a painting but it’s a totally different thing when you  actually begin to look further for the possible meaning / interpretation. While there were other works on display , I was particularly fascinated by Tianmiao’s work, the synthetic skulls were displayed in a very unique and innovative manner that also provided a unique perspective of space and proportion.

The installation was definitely different from anything else I have ever seen before, not only was I able to view the synthetic skulls, I was physically able to weave in-between each individual sculpture that did create a very unique experience. I would definitely recommend visiting the Tarrawarra Gallery, the exhibition is fantastic and the scenery is simply amazing!

References

Victoria Lynn in ‘Tarrawarra International 2013: Animate / Inanimate”, 29 June – 6 October, p. 2 -3

Anne Madeline, ‘Animate / Inanimate’, Art Alamanac: Australia, Next Media, 2013, p. 46 -47

Image References

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/australia-culture-blog/2013/jul/16/animate-inanimate-tarrawarra-museum-art

http://www.art-almanac.com.au/2013/08/animateinanimate/

http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/entertainment/art-and-design/animateinanimate-20130628-2p24l.html

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/australia-culture-blog/2013/jul/16/animate-inanimate-tarrawarra-museum-art


The NGV exhibits Ian Strange’s Suburban

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Last weekend I decided to visit an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria entitled ‘suburban’ by artist, Ian Strange. According to David Hurlston the exhibition features a range of photographic work and installations that explores the artist’s personal experiences with suburbia. Strange deconstructs the notion of suburbia and family life through a unique and extraordinary collection; the photographic works features a range of dilapidated houses that display notions of decay and disintegration, there are some houses on display that have been painted in black or red and there is one house in particular that has been completely burnt to the ground!

As I continued to walk throughout the gallery space, there was one photograph in particular that immediately captured my attention. In “Tenth Street, 2011”, Strange has painted a skull onto the very side of a house and the style appears very similar to graffiti or urban street art. I do find Strange’s subject matter particularly fascinating, I began to question the relationship between death, destruction and middle class suburbia. According to Suzanne Frazer from the Melbourne Review, Strange deliberately sets the house on fire that becomes apart of a video installation, Strange effectively captures the orange flames in slow motion that begin to destroy the skull on the very side of the property.

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Ian Strange: Tenth Street, 2011

The video installation reminds me of death in a way, the flames remind me of decay and disintegration. This makes a very interesting parallel with the skull  the actual process is rather fascinating, to actually think that this extraordinary work of art is destroyed to the extent where the actual foundations of the house dissolve into black ash. To be honest it’s a remarkable idea, Strange has used the house as a canvas that becomes a pure form of artistic expression, the video installation in particular does resonate feelings of isolation and disembodiment, even the cinematography was well executed!

The video installation was definitely my favourite, the visual and the audio effects are quite unsettling to start off with, the video piece reminded me of a horror film especially with the dark undertones. The installation did add a level of suspense that was rather enthralling, when I visit an exhibition I don’t normally watch the entire footage, Strange’s video piece on the other hand managed to captured my attention from start to finish!

The video installation also features a house slowly burning into flames; the slow motion does emphasise a significant amount of detail especially within the orange flames that gradually drift into the open air. The video piece does have a unique style and composition, in a way I do find the fire aesthetically pleasing, for some strange reason it was actually quite relaxing just to watch the house slowly burning in the open field.

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Tenth Street II, 2011

The open fire instantly reminds me of decay and destruction, the idea that nothing in life lasts forever. This is the very reason why I am interested in the skull that was painted onto the side of the house, the video installation does feature the skull slowly burning into flames, in a way the documentary reminds me of death. As soon I as viewed Strange’s extraordinary video piece, I imagined a body, even a corpse slowly burning and disintegrating to the extent where there is nothing left what so ever. It quite a strange thought really, although the artist’s work definitely triggers an emotional response!

If you have the chance, I definitely recommend visiting Strange’s exhibition that is currently exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria, well actually the exhibition is currently located within the NGV Studio that is opposite Federation Square in Melbourne. Strange has used a range of properties or house’s for an artistic and innovative project that would be impossible to miss!

In fact Ian Strange’s ‘Suburban’ is one of the most original exhibitions that I have seen so far, the installations and the photographic works on display do create such a remarkable composition that will encourage you to explore your own personal perspectives in relation to middle class suburbia. If you’re interested in contemporary art, photography and digital media, then Strange’s most recent exhibition is definitely worth the visit!

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Ian Strange Video / Documentary 

References: 

Fraser, Suzanne, “Unsettling Houses: Ian Strange’s Suburban at the NGV”, The Melbourne Review, 2012, accessed 26/8/13, http://www.melbournereview.com.au/arts/article/unsettling-houses

“Ian Strange: Suburban”, The National Gallery of Victoria 2013, accessed 26/8/13,
http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/exhibitions/ian-strange

Hurlston, David, Suburban: A New Body of Work by Artist Ian Strange, The National Gallery of Victoria, 27 July – 15 September 2013.

Photo References:

https://plus.google.com/103941029855445812852/posts/i9Pmv4UdoBP

http://www.invurt.com/tag/melbourne/

http://www.yellowtrace.com.au/2013/07/23/suburban-installation-by-ian-strange/


Ceramic Handcrafted Skulls from Amor Y Locura

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Photography by Charlotte Pridding

A couple of weeks ago, I received a small graduation gift from a local Day of the Dead Store in Melbourne, Gertrude Street that sells a range of hand crafted items from Mexico. I received four ceramic skulls with colourful and decorative designs that have been painted onto the front and the back; I soon realised that the hand crafted skulls could be used as a necklace.

There are two small holes on the left and the right hand side of the skull that would allow you to create a bracelet or a necklace, I must admit the thought is rather exciting as the skulls are rather vibrant and colourful, they would compliment all my grey and black t-shirts that are hanging in my wardrobe. At the moment, I have placed the ceramic skulls on top of the television cabinet, I must admit all the different patterns and designs compliments the furniture within the lounge room, in fact the colours are so bright I just can’t seem to take my eyes off them!

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The ceramic skulls are very small, they’re minuscule to be precise, although it is the actual size that provides these hand crafted skulls with some interesting characteristics. I have to hold the skull with my fingers in order to closely examine the various patterns and designs, when I am holding the ceramic skulls, I always find something different, something I haven’t noticed before. The base of the ceramic skull features quite a high level of detail for something so small; I also noticed that the hand crafted skulls also feature lively and animated expressions, all four of them seem to be grimacing or smirking.

So I’m not exactly sure who has designed these ceramic skulls, although I do know that the skulls were purchased from Amor Y Locura, a local boutique store that sells a range of Day of the Dead merchandise. The skulls are associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration, a celebratory event that reunites the living with the deceased. The hand crafted skulls are often used for parades, markets, altars and other activities that symbolise Mexico’s cultural and spiritual connection with the deceased, as referenced by Regina. M. Marchi.

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A couple of weeks ago, I decided to browse through a magazine known as “Latin Flavours”, the publication features various articles and reviews in relation to   authentic latin cuisine as well as small local businesses around the city of Melbourne. At the very front of the magazine, I discovered Amor Y Locura (Love & Madness) that is currently owned by Mandy Patron who is inspired by traditional and contemporary Mexican art. Patron ensures all artists receive a profit for their delicate hand crafted items that are imported from Mexico to Melbourne, Australia.

What I truly love about this store is the fact that nothing stays the same, every time I walk into Amor Y Locura, I always find a new selection of wooden, ceramic and papier-mache skulls. The store does sell a range of unique hand crafted products that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else within the city. Another thing I find particularly fascinating is the name of the business, Love & Madness reflects Patron’s own fascination with Mexico’s cultural and spiritual heritage.

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Latin Flavours features a monthly magazine that is often found within restaurants, cafes and boutique stores around Melbourne, if you ever find yourself wondering around the city, I would suggest taking a copy to read, the magazine often features some very interesting articles and recipes. Don’t forget to visit Amor Y Locura the next time you are in Gertrude Street, they have a wide selection of Mexican hand crafted antiques! Please click on the link below for further information.

http://www.amorylocura.com/

David James (Ed) Latin Flavours, Autumn Winter Edition 2013, published by Insubstantial Pageant p. 7-8

Regina.M. Marchi, The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan.  New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009.


Hand Carved Animal Skulls by Don Simpson

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Linear Coyote by Don Simpson, 2009 – 2013

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a link onto my Facebook page, the thumbnail featured the works of Don Simpson, an artist who creates elegant hand crafted skulls that are carved into some beautiful and exquisite designs. As soon as I discovered Simpson’s Deviant Art Page, I was impressed with the level of detail, the intricate patterns and designs are just incredible!

Simpson’s animal skulls also contain other materials, such as indian ink and bee’s wax that also add a unique, distinctive style to the artist’s work. As I was browsing through Simpson’s page, I realised that the artist has carved a range of animal skulls including buffalo’s, bulls, coyotes, deers, foxes and badgers. There was one image in particular that captured my attention, In Simpson’s “Openwork Coyote”, the bright purple fabric within the background compliments the patterns that are carved into the coyote’s skull. Simpson’s work is very symmetrical and this particular effect also highlights the artistic patterns that are carved into the centre of the skull.

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Openwork Coyote by Don Simpson

The patterns within the skull are quite similar to the patterns within the background, the different shapes and designs do add a very interesting effect to the image, in fact I can’t seem to withdraw my attention to the star that is embedded into the Coyote’ skull. The level of craftsmanship is quite extraordinary, in a way the skull is carved into something rather creative and imaginative. In fact, Simpson’s unique patterns significantly distort the original meaning and interpretation of the skull in general that is normally associated with death and mortality.

The coyote skull in particular is transformed into a unique art form, these skeletal remains are associated with beauty rather than morbidity. This is why I find Simpson’s work so fascinating, the skull is used a canvas in order to portray unique, artistic and visual appealing qualities, the skull doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with death, fear and anxiety.

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Sunwheel Racoon by Don Simpson

To be honest it’s quite refreshing to actually view the skull from another perspective, where death itself is transformed into a beautiful and imaginative work of art! As i continue to browse through Simpson’s eclectic portfolio, I discovered another work in particular that is rather extraordinary to say the least. In “Sunwheel Racoon”, the artist has carved some elegant symbols into the very front of the skull that significantly contrasts with the textural surface within the background. What I do find particularly interesting is the choice of colour, why purple? Well I’m not exactly sure to tell you the truth although the bright purple background successful compliments the colour of the skull, I wouldn’t really think this particular colour combination really work, some how the artist is able to use the colours in a way that is quite unique and artistic.

The background is rather bold and the diagonal lines also contrast with the decorative symbols within the skull, all the visual elements effectively correspond with one another. I must admit, Simpson’s work is rather inspiring, I even find the textual surface of the background rather creative! The decorative symbols that are carved onto the skulls also provides a unique aesthetic to Simpson’s ongoing collection! Unfortunately I was unable to find any additional information in regards to Don Simpson’s work, although if you are interested in the animal skulls, I would strongly recommend that you visit the artist’s Deviant art site.

http://donsimpson.deviantart.com/

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Openwork-Coyote-154367829

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Sunwheel-Raccoon-154368301