Taxidermy Chic: Shongololo Studio’s Painted Skulls

“Remember the article we wrote two years ago regarding the unusual skull décor trend? Well it has blasted full steam ahead and it’s no secret that we here at The Tabloid think it’s pretty cool! We recently chatted to artist Marika Gregory of Shongololo Studio who is taking this interesting trend to a whole new level. She uses animal skulls as her canvas – painting colourful, intricate patterns and designs on them…”

Q:  Tell us a bit about yourself and Shongololo Studio…

A: I am a 32 year divorced mother of three, who has decided that working my life away for what I felt was a false sense of security was not for me. After the divorce split I started throwing myself into producing art works again.

Shongololo Studio was created in September as a leap of faith and a crazy unusual creative idea. In 6 weeks I have managed to set up a studio in Emmarentia. I was invited to exhibit some of my creations at The Gallery on 6th, Parkhurst and am thrilled that the exhibition runs until 22 November 2013.

Q:  How did you get into the unusual business of painting skulls? Do you have an art or design background?

A: I completed my national N6 Diploma in Art at Parktown College in 2002. Having completed my studies,   I worked as a Graphic Designer. I also held various positions in Finance and HR. Someone I know had an animal skull in their garden that they wanted to throw away. Instead I asked to keep the skull even though at that time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.   Then one day out of boredom I decided to use it as my canvas.

Q:  Where do you draw inspiration from when creating?

A: Every one of my creations has a story to tell.   The story is always upbeat and I tell it as if I was in conversation with the person reading it. I draw my inspiration from my life, things I like, things that have happened either with me or people I know. I have a particular piece that is about three cockroaches that live in the Home Brew Shop where I have set up my studio. I named the art work – AKA Fred, Larry and Bob. Fred one day decided to do more than just his normal eaves dropping and ended up running out of my best friend Jackie’s pants!?!?

After painting DIE ANTWOORD skull, I decided that I would paint one skull a month – one that will make a statement on current or past affairs that effect South Africa or the world. I plan on having my own exhibition once I completed twelve pieces.

Q:  Is there a certain style you admire or aspire to?

A: Nothing in particular. I keep on thinking about new ideas, themes and mediums to use on my creations. There was an article published not so long ago in the lifestyle section of The Star newspaper. The article was about “Taxidermy Chic” a new trend hitting the world.  I was amazed to see it was about what I have ventured into, except no one else is painting skulls as yet.

Q:  Do you have a colour that you favour most and why?

A: I love colourful things period.  But I must say my favourite colours to use on the skulls will be my metallic colours and most of the time I mix some white paint in. The colours take very well on the skulls, they are vibrant and striking. If I have to choose my favourite colour it would be blue.

Q:  Could you share your Secret Indulgence with us?

A: Chocolate & Ice cream, I eat at least 2 chocolates a day. I have had a love for chocolates since I can remember. I used to get so excited as a child when the school day was coming to an end, because I knew my mom would be waiting for me outside. Then we would go to the shops and I could have the chocolate of my choice.  Since there is no set time to enjoy ice cream, I must admit that I have ice cream for breakfast very often. My studio is one block away from Wimpy… Soft serve by the buckets!

Q:   What is your favourite current décor trend?

A: I love the Taxidermy Chic trend and I am reading up a lot on this subject at this moment. Taking something that is dead and giving it a new life and purpose makes sense to me. Also there is a lot of new design ideas to play around with, I have made it my job to explore this and see what others are doing before this trend fully hits South-Africa

Q:  Tell us five things on your Bucket List…

1.       Buy my own island and live on it

2.       Own the biggest tree house imaginable

3.       Test Drive a Ferrari

4.       Become a famous artist

5.       Go to the Tomorrow Land Festival

Q:  What do you have on your bedside table at the moment?

A: Smokes, ashtray and my mom’s home-made crunchy biscuits.

Q:  Future plans?

A: I plan to live and not ever going back to work my life away for anyone. I know good things are coming my way, I don’t need to stress about anything. I have put it out in the universe what it is I want to do and achieve, all I now need to do is believe and enjoy.

Q:  Where can one purchase your skulls?

A: My skulls can be bought directly from myself, I am also currently in the process of negotiating with art curators, Brown Eyed Boy. My skulls will be available to buy on their website. I will also have a stall at the Home Expo early 2014 and I have a few other business partnerships I am hoping will come through soon.

{Check out the Shongololo website: here, or follow her on Facebook: here.}


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