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Sugar Skull Mural

I started drawing skeletons when I was in my mid-twenties. To be honest I have been fascinated in ideas of the soul, life and death for as long as I can remember.  Having had several experiences where I was faced with my own mortality, I explored creative avenues that were often closely linked to death.  Hence why I worked as an assistant for taxidermy artist Polly Morgan, and why I studied anatomy for artists as a course at university.  As part of this course I followed the doctors in training at University College of London, documenting their dissections of bodies in the labs and morgue to learn how to operate on living people.  It gave me an immense respect for doctors and a belief that bodies are vessels for the spirit or soul.

I faded out of practising taxidermy as I didn’t enjoy the process of handling the dead animals, I respect it as a craft but I was more interested in anatomy than the physical process of taxidermy itself.  So, it transcribed to me progressing to drawing and learning to tattoo.  Tattooing was an interesting progression from taxidermy as I already had a basic knowledge of the way skin worked.  From preserving dead animals to drawing on live humans.  At this point my style was heavily based in drawing skulls, skeletons and bone designs.  I used the designs I created for screen-printed clothes as well as tattoos.

Time wise we are about 2016. I’m living and working in Bristol, UK. A Spanish friend asked me if I have ever seen any traditional Mexican artwork.  She brought me a book to show me, it blew my mind.  Here was a whole culture that’s artwork was based around skulls and skeletons without being necessarily morbid.  It was a culture of drawing memento moris to celebrate life.  There is even a day- ‘Dia de los Muertos’ dedicated to remembering the dead.

And so began my appreciation for Mexican artwork and six months later I was on a plane to Mexico.  I spent five months in Mexico, it was actually during my time in this amazing country that I really found my calling for painting.

Skip forward to four years later and I’m a professional painter on my way to a job in Thailand. I arrived at the hotel that has flown me across the globe to paint.

“We would like this area of the hotel to be a Mexican restaurant” said the owner.
Fantastic! What a joy to be able to paint one of my favourite subjects and one that I know so much about the history and context. To paint a sugar skull.

I set about to creating the design.  I believe that when creating public artwork it is important to take into consideration the context and the location of where you are painting.  So, for a Mexican restaurant in Bangkok. I combined the sugar skull design with a painting of a traditional Thai dragon, geometric traditionally Asian patterns and a scene of a Thai fisherman out on the ocean at night.
The quote across the top of the painting, ‘not all those who wander are lost’ is from the book – Lord of the Rings. I was surrounded by travellers, everyone was on their own journey, the movement felt so fast-paced in Bangkok. A constant flow of energy. Who knew that 2 months later the whole travelling community would come to a dramatic pause with the pandemic.

CATEGORY: Mural Commission

MEDIA: Spray Paint

YEAR: 2020