There has been much excitement in the UK about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo ever since the major exhibition Frida Kahlo – Making Herself Up opened at the V&A back in June 2018. And the exhibition is great; a fascinating and insightful mixture of her public works and her private possessions, artefacts never seen outside Mexico before. The exhibition runs until November but is pretty much sold out, with just a few tickets available from the museum on the day.
Meanwhile, here in Edinburgh we have been inspired by Frida since our first trip to Mexico back in 2001. Her image and style surrounds us in our shop in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and we are always delighted to introduce her to a new audience.
Frida’s keep her eye on us, above our collection of Otomi embroidered blouses
Kahlo’s dramatic style suits reproduction and in both our shops online and in store we carry a range of products featuring her striking image.
Frida Retablos on display in the Caoba shop in Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Viva Frida. Detail from the Alexander Henry fabric of the same name
Viva Frida! Shopping bag available from our Stockbridge shop and online store
Pots and panchos outside Caoba
A while back, as I was placing the chimeneas and pots outside the shop, a passer-by remarked on the negative perception she had of the Pancho figures in our display. I don’t like not having an answer so I looked into the Pancho’s back story. Happily, as it turns out this lady’s concerns are not shared by the craftsmen who make these resting figures.
Pancho is in fact a Campesino, a Mexican farmer or farm worker. They typically start their long working day early to avoid the heat of the sun. Our Pancho statues represent these campesinos taking their hard-earned siesta before heading back out into the fields, shielded from the sun by their traditional wide-brimmed hats.
A painted campesino taking his well-earned siesta
These terracotta Pancho statues are proudly made by Jesus, working out of his small workshop in Mexico, where he also produces circles-of-friends for us. Each figure is hand made, some of them painted, some left undecorated. The terracotta wide-brimmed hats, representing vital protection from the heat of the Mexican sun here in Edinburgh serve as effective bird baths, collecting rainwater… We can bring you many delightful items from Mexico, but we can’t change the Scottish weather!
One of the range of Mexican candles in Caoba
One of the most popular images within our shop and website range is the Virgin of Guadalupe. At the time of writing she appears on a novena candle, an Alexander Henry fabric design and a wooden retablo.
But it would be hard to conceive of a time when she is not represented in Caoba in some way, even if it is down to the customers to bring in their own!
A stunning tattoo on the arm of a Caoba customer
Also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, this famous portrait shows the image of the Virgin Mary imprinted on a tilma or cape.
One December morning in 1531 Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was visited by an appearance of the Virgin Mary in the guise of a young girl, who asked him to deliver a request to the Bishop to build a church on the spot where they stood. Juan Diego obeyed but found the Bishop unwilling to believe such a lowly individual. After three further requests over the next few days Juan Diego finally brought to the Bishop his bundled tilma filled with beautiful Castilian roses; roses he had been directed to pick by the young girl. As the roses tumbled out from the cape at the Bishop’s feet, he and all others in the room fell to their knees in adoration… There, imprinted on the tilma was the beautiful image of the Virgin Mary Juan Diego had described.
The tilma still survives in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico city.