It’s me again! Well, it would be, wouldn’t it? It's my website.
There are no art related things to tell you about just yet so I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve been up to over the summer instead.
If you follow my pictures and words, you’ll know that I had a little exhibition back in July. Thankfully it all went well and it was lovely spending a little time with the dear folks who came to visit.
Putting yourself out there both physically and creatively can be daunting for someone whose day to day involves an isolated room in the remote North.
Finding myself in front of real humans with in-proportion heads and faces AND attempting sensible conversation can be an anxiety ridden business. The real hurdle though is presenting an artistic manifestation of personal thoughts and experiences. Laying yourself open for judgement and criticism is never easy so, often we artists just need a little time afterwards to reflect and clear the headspace for the next creative stage. Luckily, I had a holiday booked….
Clutching my passport and flipflops, I excitedly set about visiting Mexico for the first time. First, I had a few days of keeping very still on a quiet beach, though I did visit some ancient Mayan ruins while at the coast. These were as you would expect: mainly large pyramid(ish) formations of stones. All well and good but more interesting to me was the local wildlife and I was well rewarded with many giant lizards – and a rare white nosed coati. Here’s one Google made earlier…
The coati is a completely enchanting dog-sized creature a bit like a raccoon/monkey/anteater sort of thing. As it is a native of Central America, I’ve never met one in Tyneside so I spent a lot of time watching him digging for insects and was highly delighted by his long legs and nose. Expect one of these arriving in a painting soon.
Reluctantly leaving the peaceful coast, my next stop was Mexico City – and a whole different ball game.
If refried beans, drugs, corruption and an undercurrent of violence are your thing, then Mexico City will tick your boxes. These are not my boxes. So it was with no small amount of caution that I edged out from the safety of the airport and into the sudden chaos of Mexican traffic. Police vehicles with mounted machine guns appeared among the 8 or so fast lanes brimming with furiously honking taxi drivers.
The main reason for this visit to Mexico was the wedding of a dear friend and I began to question the romantic credentials of this location for a ‘do’.
With some relief I found that we were to be staying in a pleasant and relatively safe part of the city and away from the more worrying areas (there was no escape from the refried beans).
Being 7000 feet above sea level caused our British groom to come over a little faint on his arrival at the church, thin air you see….. His Mexican bride waited patiently as he lay ashen faced on a pew. Once revived, he made it (just) through the long ceremony and into a colourful wedding party complete with traditional Mariachi band. The poor old groom spent some of the reception on oxygen. He should have tried the Margarita’s instead – much more fun.
Another thing I was determined to do while in Mexico was visit the home and now museum of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
Born in 1907, Frida lived in her childhood home, La Casa Azul (The Blue House) all of her life.
Following a terrible bus crash when she was just 18, Frida was left severely injured and in crippling pain. She underwent some 35 operations mainly to her legs and spine, eventually leading to a leg amputation.
Given the suffering she endured, her determination to become a painter is remarkable and I was especially touched by her studio. A wheelchair sits in front of the easel, next to a large drawing table with inks and paints on display. Just feet away, there was access to a tiny room containing her day bed, complete with a mirror overhead so she could study the subject she knew best of all, herself.
The artist’s wheelchair.
Me, having a moment of awe (and studio envy)
Frida’s love of colour is reflected in the Blue House; it’s brightly painted furniture and artefacts, extending outdoors and into her lovely walled garden which was full of exotic plants.
Diego Rivera was the true love of Frida’s life and Mexico’s most important artist. He lived with her in this house. Rivera was also regularly unfaithful during their marriage having numerous affairs including one with her younger sister which broke Frida’s heart and led to divorce. However, let’s not forget that Frida counted Leon Trotsky as a notch on her own bedpost. Their indiscretions aside, no one could dispute that her passion for Diego eclipsed everything and everyone else: they later remarried, aaaw.
The kitchen where Frida would knock up those tasty refried beans for Diego Rivera.
The toad-like urn on the dressing table in Frida Kahlo’s bedroom is the artist’s final resting place. It is thanks to Rivera that the Blue House was turned into this wonderful museum after her death, aged 47.
My final quest was to see some of Rivera’s murals at Mexican National gallery. Braving a THREE HOUR queue, I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t to be. I say slightly because the works had been temporarily removed to house an exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. On this occasion, I would rather have seen the best of Rivera than the lesser known works of these European giants but I could hardly complain, could I? A fair collection of drawings, paintings and sculpture was offered. There is nothing I can say about the legacy of Da Vinci or M-Lo, that hasn’t been said before and the exhibition finished my visit to Mexico in a tremendous, if unexpected way.
Returned safely to the UK, I’m back in the more familiar surrounds of my old studio and contemplating my next creative venture. I’m also hoping to finally have a new space soon where you can visit in person (only if you want to of course, I won’t make it compulsory or anything).
Anyway my lovelies, thank you for your kind attention and ‘til we meet again, do have a stupendously crispy Autumn.
Speedy Gonzales x