Tag Archives: art

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Frida on White Bench, Nickolas Muray, 1939

A few months ago, Mr. Michie surprised me with tickets to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. She has long been one of my favourite artists and someone that I feel an unexplainable deep connection to. Our tickets were for an early morning entry, which was perfect. It was busy, but not too busy; so you had the luxury of lingering over a piece without the worry you were in someone else’s way.

The show was beautifully presented and laid out in manner that represented and reflected significant stages in her life. There were photographs taken by her father I had never seen before as well as some of her earlier sketches and drawings. There was film footage of her and Diego Rivera at their home, La Casa Azul in Mexico. The Kodachrome colours of the film gave it such a vibrant and dreamy hue.

Upon Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband placed many of her personal belongings inside a bathroom in their home and locked them away. La Casa Azul later became a museum to Kahlo’s life. Shortly before his death in 1957, Rivera made a request to a close friend, Dolores Olmedo, that this room containing Kahlo’s intimate belongings should remain locked for the next fifteen years. Olmedo, seriously took Diego Rivera’s request to heart and decided to keep the room sealed until her death in 2002. It was only after Dolores Olmedo’s death that the museum was able to gain access to the sealed bathroom and then began the process of cataloguing the hundreds of items that had been placed within those walls and frozen in time. As a curator and art historian, that would have been a dream job to have been a part of.

As you moved into the last two rooms of the exhibition, her personal possessions were front and center. The six cases that held some of her most intimate things were laid out in two rows of three. It gave the impression of being within a dormitory as the display cases themselves were beds; replicas of her bed. The irony was not lost on me that her bed was a place that she spent a good deal of time within due to her injuries and multiple surgeries and now her possessions were laid out on a “mattress” between the four posters of these faux beds. The outer walls of this room were lined with photographs and personal letters.

Left: Prosthetic leg with leather boot, 1953 – 4, Mexico. Right: Plaster corset, about 1954, Mexico. Photographs by Javier Hinojosa. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Compact and powderpuff with blusher in ‘Clear Red’; Seal-fast nail varnish top coat; Lastron nail varnishes in ‘Frosted Snow Pink’ and ‘Frosted Pink Lightening’; lipstick in ‘Everything’s Rosy’. Photograph by Javier Hinojosa. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Just to name a few things, displayed within those cases were her Revlon nail polish bottles, lipstick, sunglasses, Pond’s cold cream, shoes, her plaster corsets that she painted, her prosthetic leg, crutches, and perfume bottles. It was extraordinary to me that these things still existed and the condition they were in, was astounding! If you are very, very lucky an artist’s palette or a few bits of paint that they used might still exist, but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine someone’s make-up still being in existence.

The final room of the exhibition contained a huge case in the center of the room, displaying her clothes, with self-portraits, jewellery and other objects along the outer walls. To see so many items of her clothing in person that she had been photographed wearing was phenomenal. To have stared at photographs of her for most of my life and then to see that very outfit in front of my eyes was almost beyond belief.

One thing that struck me in this room was a necklace that had been created out of different sized pieces of jade. At the center hung a carved jade hand that was formed into a fist. It was quite large and I wondered if the weight of that around her neck ever bothered her? Anything that would have put pressure on her spine must have been uncomfortable, but yet she wore the necklace any way.

In a way she curated her own life and her pain through not only her artwork, but her clothing. Each item carefully chosen, colourful lipstick and nail polish carefully applied. Her hair braided in a very specific way with ribbons worked into it. There was an intimacy to this show, it almost bordered at times on being too intimate, like I had snuck into a place I shouldn’t be and opened the dresser drawers and rifled through them. It was an incredibly unique perspective on a woman that I have long admired and in a strange way, seeing so many of her personal belongings almost made her more mythical than not.

*As I enter exhibitions it is sometimes difficult to take off my curator/art historian “hat”, in the back of my mind I’m always considering the layout, I watch how others interact with the displays, or move around the exhibition, I pay attention to signage and font usage… One thing I was fascinated by within this show were the mannequins that were dressed with her clothes. The video below is a captivating look into how the V&A created them. Enjoy!

Hello, Friday!

“Hello, Friday! We’ve been waiting on you all week!”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been waiting for Friday all week! This week has been a roller coaster, but we’ve marched on.

Mr. Michie surprised me ages ago with tickets to see an exhibition of one of my favourite artists, Frida Kahlo. There is an exhibition at the V&A of her personal things. So that’s on the weekend agenda as well as cooking together, listening to music, enjoying the sunshine and soaking up life.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday, wherever you may be today! 

{Image FOUND //  Pinned HERE}

Colour Scheme

It’s not always fun to be practical. I’m in the realm of pumpkins, hot apple cider and walks through the woods that are slowly turning a delicious golden and red hue. However, I do have to put my practical hat on because October is just around the corner. In fact, October will be here this weekend and I don’t have that much longer to design this year’s Christmas card so it can be sent off to the printers.

Last year, I did a full watercolour winter scene. The year before that a Christmas in London theme. In previous years I’ve also created a collage and used a photograph of a winter wonderland that I designed. This year, I decided I wanted to keep it simple. I toyed with a lot of ideas, sketching them out and then scribbling them back out. But, I’ve finally decided on what I want to do.

It’s going to have a 1950’s/60’s design flare. Almost everything will have been created out of basic shapes that I’m reinterpreting.

Above is the current colour scheme, there is still some tweaking to do, but I’m very happy with where this project is going. It’s always nice to see an idea come to fruition.

Here’s a sampling of some of my previous cards. Goose Girl & Foxy managed to get onto one of them:

Christmas Card 2013

The Anatomy of a Christmas Card

A New Years Card

Nostalgia

I don’t know why and I know that it just isn’t me, because everyone I’ve spoken with today has said they feel as if this has been the longest week ever!

The woods were so quiet this morning. I only passed one other person out with her two Jack Russells. The sunbeams were distilled through the leaves, moving in and out as the breeze shook the branches; little tracks of light making the path glow. I could see my breath. It was a perfect autumnal morning.

I love the way the light changes this time of year. The shadows become longer. The light becomes whiter. My Nana’s dining room was at the corner of the house, so light filtered in from the front and the sides. Near one of the windows in the corner she had a Christmas cactus that sat on a tall wooden plant stand.

The afternoon autumnal light would be so pure the cactus almost appeared as it was glowing. The light would move across the dining room table and come to rest on the opposite wall. I would sit at the kitchen table watching the light dance about. It always made me think of Cranberries, by Andrew Wyeth.

We hardly ever turn on the TV, but last night the Mercury Prize Awards were on and Mr. Michie wanted to see some of the acts perform. Sampha, won the prize and we were both very happy with the judges decision. He played, “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”.

I have no idea why, because there was not a piano in the dining room, or even in my Nana’s house for that matter. But, this song makes me think of her home. I suppose it speaks to me because her house knew me well.  I used to clean for her and my other Grandmother for pocket money. I was usually saving up to buy Christmas presents. Her walls heard my voice, her furniture knew the touch of my hand. Her stove was incredibly fun to cook on, this perfect 1960s avocado green beauty. I think this song makes me feel nostalgic. The changing of seasons makes me feel that way as well, excited for what is to come and sad to let the previous season slip away.

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Caught Between Two Worlds

I have long been an admirer of Frida Kahlo. I am of the opinion that certain artists speak to you on a level that goes beyond simply “liking” or “appreciating” their work. Kahlo speaks to me. One painting in particular that I always reflect on is, The Two Fridas, 1939. It was painted after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The two Fridas are sitting, holding hands with their hearts interlinked. One enrobed in traditional Tehuana dress and the other in westernised clothing.

To me, they represent different facets of her. We are all gems, with different facets making up the whole. I feel it shows her caught between her worlds; who she is, where she has been, where she is going and what she wants to be. This is something that I fully understand; I feel caught between my two worlds.

In catching up with some blog reading this week, I read a post on Chocolate and Zucchini. Clotilde wrote about witnessing a friend’s thesis defence, on the experience of refugee chefs in Paris. She opened with a poem by Nigerian writer Ijeoma Umebinyuo, called Diaspora Blues:

“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.”

The lines Umebinyuo wrote spoke to me. I’m not entirely where I want to be right now. I’m striving to keep to the motto “bloom where you’re planted”. But I feel caught between my two worlds. England is becoming a place that I don’t recognise. It’s political agendas are disturbing. It appears that there is no room for growth. The people are becoming even less friendly than they already were.

We are running down a path and every time we come to a cross in the road and make a decision about our direction, it turns out that we keep coming back to the same path. Timing is everything and maybe this is where we are meant to be right now. Even if I don’t fully see or understand it. My Grandpa always said, you never see the whole puzzle at once. There is a reason for everything and I truly believe in that.

But, I’m ready for a change. I’m ready to see what comes next. I took a leap a little while ago and it turned into a dead end. So, I’m backing up and going down the next road. I hope it brings me closer to my dream. And I hope the path we’re on, brings us closer to our dreams.

Roskilde

We ventured out to Roskilde during this trip to see the Viking Museum and the Cathedral (which was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage site). The town itself, is just charming. It was a Viking stronghold and became the capitol and center of Danish life during the Middle Ages.

We strolled from the train station down through town. There were lots of stops for window shopping and I just had to go in to one store in particular. It was a gorgeous place with a tea and cake shop on one side and beautiful gifts and antiques on the other. I was very good and just looked, but I could have bought out half the shop!

This was written on a plaque next to the Spring: St. John’s Spring was a holy spring, named after St. John the Baptist. The outflow as it appears today dates from 1834. In 1835 the 11m deep well was excavated. Numerous potsherds and two almost intact earthenware jugs were found, dating from the time when sick persons came to the spring to be healed.

We walked down to the Viking Museum first. As we neared a field just past the church, we could hear the sound of splashing water. We both looked around and discovered a spring. Not just any spring, but the Skt. Hans Kilde ( St. John’s Spring). This was one of three sacred springs within Roskilde. It was a popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages, because many of the sick, thought they would be healed by drinking the water.

As we approached the museum, the smell of the sea filled our nostrils. The front of the museum acts as a storage shipyard. Boats were covered for the winter and lined up along the path with descriptions written next to them. I fell in love with one boat from 1944, Brudpiga. It was a church boat that carried people from scattered villages and farms along the Siljan lake in Sweden to church on Sundays. It could hold up to 60 people. It had 20 oars and a crew of 22 men. My imagination was running wild after reading that sign. I am sure I was romanticising it within my head, but I had cozy visions of traveling in that boat by candlelight along the shores, gathering people and meeting friends, who you might not see again until the following week.

The architecture of the building housing the five ships was thoughtfully devised. You felt as if the boats and the sea blended into one. The outside and the inside working together in harmony. The Viking Museum was truly fascinating! It’s incredible that this discovery was even made and then the time it took to excavate and preserve it, is even more astounding. I can’t wait to go back in the Summer to watch them working on boats in the shipyard and if we’re really lucky to ride on one of the ships they take out into the fjord.

I couldn’t help but snap this picture of a picture, of one of the conservationist working on preserving the wood of the ships. Those glasses just rock!

A view over the bridge to the working shipyard and outbuildings.

We stopped for a snack in the cafe. I had hot chocolate and we split a piece of apple cake. The cafe’s menu is inspired by the Vikings. They use the same ingredients that were available during the Viking Age as well as those that were brought home from the Viking’s voyages. They strive to bring to life the five Skuldelev ships through food. I liked that. Food is important on so many different levels and to intertwine the past and the present was a lovely way of bringing the Vikings to life.

I loved this terracotta pink house with it’s green trim. It looked cozy inside.

Next stop was the Cathedral. We only had a short time in the Cathedral and we definitely needed longer. The sun was setting and the shadows that were created were both breathtaking and also eerie. The history within the church, it’s connection to the monarchy and to the artists who worked there piqued my interest.

Frescos c.1460, in the Chapel of the Magi

Tomb of the Scandinavian Queen Margrethe I.

Tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise.

In the Christian IX chapel the three female figures that flank the double tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise were designed by Edvard Eriksen. He was the creator of the famous Little Mermaid statue that sits in the harbour in Copenhagen. His wife was the model for these statues and you can particularly see that in the posing of the Little Mermaid and the central female figure at the tombs. We stayed until the bells chimed to signal the doors were closing for the night.

Roskilde Convent

We walked back through town in the dark. The twinkle of Christmas lights glowing all around us. I couldn’t resist peeking through the gates of the convent to see their lights, a welcoming beacon on a frosty night. This city is on our list to keep exploring, there was just too much to see in a day! But, I’m not going to complain about that, it’s a good excuse to go back!

Louise Bourgeois at the Louisiana

A trip to Denmark, never feels complete unless we get to walk through the breathtaking halls of the Louisiana Museum. It holds a special place in my heart. Strolling through the sculpture gardens; staring at Sweden across the sea; absorbing all the light from the floor to ceiling windows; taking in the architecture and the lighting, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

This was a special trip for me, as we were going to see the Louise Bourgeois Exhibition. I have long been an admirer of her work and to see her Cell series put together like this was hair-raising. It featured all 25 cells and was the first exhibition to do so. To be able to touch and see what she had touched, seen and created, made the experience a deeply moving and intimate one. I noticed on a few of the cells, her hand writing scrawled across the upper part of the doors, labelling them as the “top”. There was a realness to these nooks, they existed within their own worlds. Worlds that we were, at once, a part of and an intruder. I was overjoyed that we had the chance to see this particular exhibition.

Louise Bourgeois, Cell I

Louise Bourgeois, Cell I (a peak inside)

Louise Bourgeois, Cell VI

Louise Bourgeois, Spider

Louise Bourgeois, Spider (detail)

Louise Bourgeois, I Give Everything Away

Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXVI

Other highlights on this visit were the Daniel Richter paintings and work by the Spanish artist Juan Muñoz. Of course we made a pit stop to step inside Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights of the Souls. It is always worth the wait to go in to that magical little room.

Juan Muñoz, Half Circle

Daniel Richter, Tarifa

Daniel Richter, Alles Ohne Nichts

Daniel Richter, Amsterdam

Daniel Richter, Winter Journey 4

As always it is a treat to stop and eat lunch at the Louisiana. The fire was lit, and there was a beautiful view from the windows of the ocean rocking and rolling at a steady pace just beyond. The air was damp and clean. We feasted on sparkling apple juice and Christmas sausages with the most divine orange sauce; bowls of Jerusalem artichoke soup; and a variety of salads and fresh bread. It is simple, yet elegant.

Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Powerless Structures, fig. 11