on November 01, 2017 See + Do

Celebrating the skull through art

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 A NEW exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat is exploring the often taboo topic of mortality.

Romancing the Skull explores the depiction of the iconic skull, delving into its origins and various representations.

“There have been such a huge number of artworks created through the centuries which include images of the skull,” Art Gallery of Ballarat curator Julie McLaren says.

“We wanted to examine how the icon was traditionally represented, and look at how contemporary Australian artists incorporate the skull into their work.”

Louise Saxton, Vanitas 2 The Twitcher, 2015. Reclaimed needlework, silk, beading pins, on museum board. © Louise Saxton and Gould Galleries - Copy.jpg

Having been in the pipeline for more than two years, the show features over 200 works including Shaun Gladwell’s Virtual Reality work Orbital Vanitas 2016 which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, pieces from Australian artists the likes of Sam Jinks, Rona Green and Ben Quilty, as well as prints from renowned Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada – never before seen by Australian audiences.

Julie says the show’s wide variety of works – paintings, drawings, photography, books, sculpture, jewellery and virtual reality – means there is something to appeal to everyone.

Kate Beynon, Graveyard Scene, 2014-15. Synthetic polymer paint on linen. Geelong Gallery, copyright the artist - Copy.jpg

“Traditionally the skull has been an important symbol representing our mortality – we can depart this life at any moment," she says.

“For contemporary audiences, the skull is an important reminder that ultimately we are all the same. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, political beliefs, financial position, we all have a skull and are therefore equal – an important message in the current political climate.”

Romancing the Skull will show at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until January 28.

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