Body Art in The Land of Oz

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By Christopher Talbot

Carolina Ayala is a unique breed of artist, trading in the canvas for the human body
and transforming people into walking works of art.
The Caulfield resident, 41, has become an avid competitor on Australia’s face and
body art circuit; taking her skills on the road and showcasing them amongst the best
in the country. She recently returned from the Australian Body Art Carnivale in
Eumundi QLD.This is an event attracting artists from across Australia with
competitions in full body art and face painting.

This year’s theme ‘The Best of OZ,’ lent itself to a wide range of interpretations for
artists. In the face-painting category, Ayala opted for a modern twist on ‘The Wizard
of Oz’, transforming model, Doris Li, into a highly original interpretation of the classic

“Li slips into Dorothy’s ruby shoes and rather than landing in Kansas, lands in
Australia. She travels through Japan, Thailand and leads to her homeland China.
“The golden trail continues, linking Australia and China and shows how we are
always connected to places and people close to our hearts,” Ayala said.
To Ayala it is always important to include the culture and background of the model in
her work. “The model brings so much to the table; it’s not just painting on a face.
They have a story. And I always try to compliment this in my work,” she said. Her
passion for her craft is obvious; there is a sparkle in her eye as she flicks through her
folio. It contains step-by-step photographs showcasing the complex process of
transforming her subjects into masterpieces.

She loves the transient nature of face and body art, creating something beautiful and
memorable that only has a short lifespan. “What is very freeing about face and body
art is that it is temporary and you can’t get too attached to your work,” she said.
For the Eumundi five-hour body art event, Ayala cleverly fused The Wizard of OZ
with some classic Australiana. The striking piece includes a dingo in a tornado, an
Australian version of Dorothy’s dog Toto being transported to the magical land of Oz.
Underneath the swirling winds is John Flynn, the iconic Australian on the twenty-
dollar note who started the Royal Flying Doctor Service. A man that Ayala says
embodies the traits The Wizard of OZ characters are searching for.

“The Wizard of OZ talks about courage, love and wisdom to find the path to
happiness. I thought, there isn’t really a better icon than him, who used all his
courage, love and wisdom and did something amazing with it,” she said.
Ayala’s art is influenced by her South American roots, delivering her with an
introduction to vibrant colour and a love of nature. But she counts St Kilda among her
biggest Melbourne inspirations. “I love St Kilda… and I love the sea because it gets
me into my proper head-space to think and imagine. I also love Luna Park believe it
or not… I like walking by and looking at the structures and the colours, it just so
alive,” she said.

Melbourne also has a vibrant, face and body art scene. Ayala took out the 2011
Melbourne Body Art Competition in the face-painting category with an exquisite
Mayan Goddess. Her ultimate dream is to head to the World Body Painting Festival
held annually in Pörtschach Austria. It attracts the best body painters from all over
the globe and is the most prestigious title in the body art fraternity. Ayala also
spreads a little of her artistic magic running a business that does face painting for
parties and corporate events.

For more information on the Australian Body Art Carnivale, or to enter next years
competition visit

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