Reading through various blogs and scrolling through Instagram, oohing and aaahing at people’s photos of snow, which I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for, I’ve seen many people who have discussed their dislike for this time between Christmas and New Year’s. The general feeling is that we are in a holding pattern, just circling, waiting for the next year to begin. That these are the wasted days before the next big hoorah.
I don’t feel that way at all during this “in-between” time. I think this is the chance to truly relax, to enjoy the season. For the world is quieter around you and you can take it all in. There is a natural slowness to our rhythms at this time and I savour that pace.
Unlike others I’ve seen who took down their decorations on the 26th, ours are still going strong and they will continue to do so until Epiphany (January 6th) and to be honest, maybe a little longer than that. Then the twinkle lights shall be replaced by more candles and a handful of spring blooms. But we are still in winter and I don’t wish away these days. I like to revel and appreciate the season that I’m within.
These “in-between” days also hold another kind of magic for us, as today one of the inhabitants of this little cottage celebrates a birthday. So there is a cake cooling on the counter, dough rising on the stove and a birthday meal soon to be prepared as per the birthday boy’s wishes.
But, everything is still being done at a languid pace as we continue to enjoy the last drops that this year has to offer. And I think that is how it should be.
I forgot to put my shoes out last night, so only Mr. Michie got a surprise. It was a pretty big Christmas chocolate bar that was wedged in his shoe though, so I’m hoping he’ll share a piece with me later.
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!
I’ve been catching up on a few things since our return from Denmark (photos coming soon, I promise!). One thing on my “To-Do” list was to go through the things I saved in my Instapaper account. As I slowly started combing through the articles I had put in there for rainy day reading, I re-discovered this one on Colossal.
A Canadian couple have spent the past 24 years building their own floating island. Today they are currently moored off the coast of Vancouver. I was completely fascinated by this idea. I would love to follow them through the seasons and see how their life changes when the snow begins to fall.
I sat down yesterday afternoon to catch up on a bit of blog reading that I had saved and I watched this. I was mesmerised. Created by Thomas Blanchard, using a mixture of paint, milk, oil and liquid soap. I was completely entranced. I felt that I was watching a cosmic explosion, a carnival of candy colours, a film showing biological matter in all it’s minutea. It is a metamorphosis of colours and shapes. I found it to be almost meditative. Enjoy!
I know that my posting has been a bit sporadic as of late. My computer is dying a slow and very painful death. The screen begins to flash as if its possessed and the keyboard has now decided to stop working among other things, so Mr. Michie is very kindly sharing his macbook with me in the meantime.
In attempting to get caught up with my blog reading list this morning, I saw this post on Colossal. I was mesmerised. More than ever before, the art of creating something by hand should be valued. In Japan, Yasuo Okazaki carries on the tradition of handcrafting Kokeshi Dolls that was taught to him by his father. Beautiful.