Gallery Curator Julie McLaren with an item from the latest fascinating exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

THE skull is being celebrated in a fascinating exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat from 14 October 2017 to 28 January 2018.

Romancing the Skull is a celebration of all things related to the skull, its power as a symbol representing not just death and danger, but rebellion, defiance and a ‘devil may care’ view of life itself.

Gallery Curator Julie McLaren, says the core of the exhibition will be skulls and skeletons as they are featured in Australian contemporary art, but the exhibition will also take sideways glances at historic imagery such as medieval Dances of Death, pirate flags, poison bottles and tattoo art.

“The skull has always been an iconic symbol, and it is frequently featured in art.

This tribute to the skull puts the question, ‘why has it been so fascinating for so long to so many people?” she asked.

The exhibition coincides with Dia de Muertos celebrations, with the Day of the Dead Festival moving from Federation Square in Melbourne to Ballarat on 4 November.

More than twenty prints by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852– 1913) – long associated with the Day of the Dead – will be on show to Australian audiences for the first time.

Other exhibition highlights include a woodcut print from the renowned Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 depicting one of the earliest Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) images, and Australian artist Shaun Gladwell’s Virtual Reality work Orbital Vanitas 2016, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Romancing the skull will include also works commissioned specially for the exhibition by Fiona Hall, Rekko Rennie and Sally Smart, as well as works by contemporary Australian artists Sam Jinks, Rona Green, and Ben Quilty.

The exhibition will include events, talks, an educational program, and school holiday activities. Visitors with a real skull tattoo can gain entry for just $10 – provided it can be shown without offending public decency!