gregory raymond halili carves skulls into mother-of-pearl shells
all images courtesy of gregory raymond halili

 

 

 

elements found in the natural world meet the human ones, in manilla-based artist gregory raymond halili‘s series of hand-carved and painted skull sculptures. etched into the surface of mother-of-pearl shells, halili recreates the anatomically accurate motif onto both gold-lip and black-lip oysters found in the philippines. innately iridescent, the resilient shell lining is carefully and meticulously scratched away until the outline of the skull takes shape; following the contours of the bass-relief, layers of oil paints add depth, shadow and subtle detail to the facial likeness.

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl
etched and painted shells

 

 

 

various soft colors, from golds to greys, increase the intensity and volume; close attention to anatomical features — like teeth and bone — render the result as an almost seamlessly integrated sculpture hidden within the shell.

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl
the addition of soft colors adds depth and shadow to the skull

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl
detail

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl
black-lip mother-of-pearl

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl
process images indicate the craftsmanship and technique

gregory raymond halili hand-carves skulls onto mother-of-pearl<
detail and process photo of the etched and painted skull