My penchant for skulls is a well-documented fetish that invades my home, doodles and writing. I’ll never forget learning about symbols in Vanitas paintings whilst at university, and realising that my lifelong love of the macabre icon was a little more historical and a little less hysterical.
The skull motif has since become overwhelmingly trendy in pop culture – art, fashion, interiors and design are inundated with it. The obvious result is that one has to be selective when choosing one’s skulls. Seriously. The skull pieces in my house are handpicked, handmade beauties that took my breath away upon first meeting.
The life-size wire skull that sits on my dining room table was bought from a street vendor in Kalk Bay when I could scarcely afford to put petrol in my car to get back to town. He had only one, and I knew if I didn’t take it right then I’d never see it again. I bargained him down to R200 and the skull joined us for lunch at Polana. The Mexican sugar skull that is custodian of my bookcase was the catalyst for my mini collection – I bribed my colleagues to give her to me for my birthday a couple of years ago. She’s a convenient candle holder, too, but I refuse to burn anything but black candles on her sacred, blossom-bedecked cranium. By the following year, said colleagues had just about mastered their amusement when I asked for the Emma Cook skull lightbox that now adorns my wall. A fetish, indeed.
Despite my genuine love of them, I am wary of actually wearing any skulls. So often they look cheap and, worse, corny. Skulls paired with pink, skulls paired with skater shoes, skulls paired with pigtails. That’s Avril Lavigne, not Karen O. It’s a travesty. My one concession is a Perspex skull pendant on a dainty silver chain, seldom worn, but always loved. And I think I may have just found another…
This ornate skull ring by local jewellers, Sirkel, is just beauteous. The perfect mix of morbid and lush – true Vanitas. Each Sirkel piece is handmade. And that makes me want one even more.
This chrysoprase set in bright rose gold also caught my eye.
Sirkel also recently collaborated with acclaimed furniture maker Gregor Jenkinto create a very selected range of handmade rings. Incorporating raw, industrial diamonds and solid, sculptural settings, the unisex range has a real air of oldworld craftsmanship. The stones look like prehistoric shards and I like the contrast of their opaque surfaces with the gleaming metals. Wish list? Yes please.
Until I can call the Sirkel skull my own, I’m sticking with my resident ghouls. Skull gifts always welcome (my birthday’s in June).