Tag Archives: Gertrude Street

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.


Gertrude Street

28/9/12 – Skulls on Gertrude Street, Melbourne

Yesterday I decided to take a trip down to Gertrude Street in Melbourne with a friend and we did find some small galleries that were open for public display. Gertrude street has some very interesting stores and galleries that do sell unique items or products that you wouldn’t usually find in your regular shopping mall.

Almost every store I walked into had images of skulls on shelfs, in cabinets and in window displays. I have listed a few that stores or gallery spaces that have used the image of the skull.

#1 Natalie Ryan (Evanescence) Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects

The works of Natalie Ryan are currently displayed in the Dianne Tanzer Gallery, which featured large dimensional forms with very bold and interesting colours. There were a range of animals within the space, which may have been made from velvet.I also noticed a ram’s skull, which was positioned opposite the desk and the three-dimensional construction definitely captured my attention.

The shape is very well designed and the skull features a striking composition with the reflective material within the interior of the skull.  According to the Dianne Tanzer Gallery website, Natalie Ryan is an Australian artist who explores the subject of death and the “animal cadaver” through large installations or three-dimensional formats. From a personal perspective, the skull invites one to gaze into the reflective surface of the skull, which may challenge certain interpretations of death.

Image taken inside the gallery with permission

Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Project, “Natalie Ryan”, Diane Tanzer Gallery + Project, http://diannetanzergallery.net.au/Natalie-Ryan (Accessed 28/6/12)

#2 Metal Couture

After our visit to the Gallery, I recognised a very interesting collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces, which were displayed in the front of the shop window. Most of the jewellery within the store featured the image of the skull and the style is very gothic / avant gaurde.

There was an empty bottle of Crystal Head vodka right next to the front desk, which also features the shape of a skull. The sales assistant explained that he was interested in the  design of the bottle and the assistant had also expressed an interest for skulls, which was an interesting observation.

According to the Metal Couture website, Metal Couture is a brand, which is founded by William Llewllyn Griffiths who creates jewellery from “precious metals”. Metal Couture also designed jewellery for large companies and fashion designers. Metal Couture feature a gothic style, although the jewellery does feature a level of elegance and sophistication.

Metal Couture Website “WLG Biography”, Metal Couture, 2010 http://www.metalcouture.com/information/?c=bio_main(Accessed 28/6/12)

Photo used as a reference from Deer & Stag Blog, http://deerandstag.com/post/16436311878/skull-etched-into-quartz-stone-metal-couture-ring 

#3 Amor y Locura

Towards the end of Gertrude street there is a store called Amor y Locura, which sells Mexican Day of the Dead skulls and figurines. There is paper mache skulls, ceramic skulls, key ring skulls, cupcake moulds and jewellery in the shape of a skull. Everywhere you turn there are skulls in different colours, shapes and sizes. This is personally one of my favourite stores in Melbourne and there are so many different skulls to choose from.

The products are well designed and the it’s quite hard to walk out of the store without buying anything. Amor y Locura is definitely the place if you are interested in Day of the Dead imagery and Mexican skulls.

Amor y Locura, a Latin American fiesta of Architectural Antiques, Furniture and Folk art, http://www.amorylocura.com/ (Accessed 28/6/12)

Image from Amor y Locura website, http://www.amorylocura.com/cat.cfm?id=62 

# 4 Shoe Shop / Fashion Accessory Store on Brunswick Street

While a friend was shopping for shoes, I recognised a pair of scarfs towards the back of the store. The scarfs do not appear well designed or fabricated, which clearly demonstrates that the image of the skull is used for almost everything and everything.

# 5 Devil Kitty

The last store I visited was Devil Kitty, which featured punk / gothic clothes, jewellery and other fashion accessories, which were completely plastered with the image of the skull. Every corner of the store featured another representation of a skull, which did cause me to feel dizzy after ten minutes.

The different designs and styles were definitely interesting and it is very interesting to view the comparisons between the Day of the Dead merchandise in Amor y locura and the gothic representations of the skull in Devil Kitty. The skulls were usually displayed on dresses, handbags and high-heeled shoes in either black, pink or red, which may indicate that the skull is used to attract a female demographic?

Devil Kitty, http://blog.devilkitty.com.au/ (Accessed 28/6/12)

Image from Devil Kitty Blog, http://blog.devilkitty.com.au/