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CELEBRATING DEATH THE MEXICAN WAY

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Carlos Trejo introduces the Mexican tradition of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

CARLOS Trejo, who is part of Melbourne’s Mexican community, came to Ballarat on Saturday to introduce members of the Art Gallery of Ballarat to the Mexican tradition of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican celebration held every year on 1 and 2 November, during which family and friends remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. It is a Mexican national holiday which features parades and festivals, purposebuilt altars and special food.

Images of skulls and skeletons are a particular feature of the event. MexVic, the social and cultural organisation for Victoria’s Mexican community, will be joining with the Art Gallery of Ballarat and the City of Ballarat to present a Dia de Muertos Fiesta in Alfred Deakin Place, behind the Art Gallery, on Saturday 4 November.

The Fiesta, which will have music, food vans, stalls and family activities, will celebrate the Gallery’s exhibition Romancing the skull, which opens on 14 October.

On Saturday Carlos ran workshops to prepare members of the Gallery community for the festival in November. They were attended by Gallery workshop artists, Guides, volunteers, as well as local teachers.

Carlos will also train local artists Deanne Gilson and Pauline O’Shannessy Dowling to run a Spirit Hunt, a fun kids’ activity based on the Day of the Dead, which the Gallery will present on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 September during the Spring School Holidays at the Ballarat Mining Exchange. During the Spirit Hunt the children have their faces painted, help to find a lost spirit called Cuau, and build an ofrenda, the traditional Mexican offering tables. “The session today went really well,” Carlos said. “The objective was to create awareness about Mexican tradition and how it is celebrated.” Carlos arrived in Melbourne from Mexico City nine months ago and is focused on bringing social and cultural awareness. “Everyone that wants to join us, as well, is more than welcome,” he said. “I love Mexican culture, it’s very rich and I would like to spread it all around the world – that’s the main reason that I am doing this.