Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mini collection 12

Here are my few Mexican Day of the Dead things (surprisingly difficult to photograph), or what I think of as my Mexican Day of the Dead things which, in reality have got rather blurred (in the sense of what is actually a 'Dad of the Dead' object and what can pass muster as one), ever since I held my own Mexican Day of the Dead in my rented flat in Crouch End, London, years ago. That was a big event for me -- an installation! It involved weeks of preparation and the scrutinising of the photographs I'd taken at the Museum of Mankind exhibition (which inspired the whole thing) plus the pages of Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayer's book, The Skeleton at the Feast.
from the Museum of Mankind exhibition
I made as many things as I could (which I haven't included in the first photo) and personalised various things as I felt that was in the spirit of the real Day of the Dead.
My great grandfather and great-aunts being ancestors in my Day of the Dead (with tin cut-outs, exotic fruit, homemade skull...)
I don't know where this candleholder is any more. My memories are quite confused as my (wild) enthusiasm for Mexican crafts waned a few years ago and everything got dispersed.
gourd rattle

I have some milagros (metal shapes to attach to the skirts of a Madonna - there was a hand milagro in the recent hand collection), cut-out painted tin decorations, a carved gourd rattle (above), a very tattered pink paper cut by Maurilia Rojas (visible in the photo below).
The blue-robed skeleton is a treasured possession given to me by Irma Kurtz when I edited her travel book, The Great American Bus Ride.
The cross is probably the best thing I have -- studded all over with milagros. I'm not a religious person but even I have been known to rub one of its many hands or a book or an eye on it when I'm hoping for luck in some particular endeavour.
Cycling skeleton
Another great book is Chloe Sayer's Arts and Crafts of Mexico. What was amazing at the Museum of Mankind show (which was, I think, curated by Carmichael and Sayer) was that you could actually buy some of the same objects that were in the show -- they had brought back lots of things from their curatorial visits -- and it really brought it home to me that the Day of the Dead is a living cultural thing, not something enshrined in the past. That's really why I embarked on my own Day of the Dead in my flat -- there's a story inspired by the whole event loaded up on the blog with a link in the right-hand column, if you're interested.
I also went through a period of loving Friday Kahlo (not so much her art as her life), Diego Rivera (ditto, more so), J. G Posada, Tina Modotti and, lately, Leonora Carrington (again, her life more than her art, alas). I have Mexican loteria cards too -- very good for collage!
I know I'm by no means alone in loving all this stuff -- so what! It's wonderfully graphic and vital. Just looking back at all this stuff has reignited my passion all over again.


menopausalmusing said...

YAY! I so wanted to see that cross, having peeked at it in the previous post. What a brilliant post! Lovely, lovely, lovely collection!

Makeminemidcentury said...

I'd like to see a head of lettuce.

Why not? Your latest collection seems to be open to all sorts of off-shoots. Peculiarly you. That's nice.

LAC EMP 2020 said...

Jane, Your collections are a constant revelation. That cross is covetable. I'm not that knowledgeable about the Day of the Dead ceremonies at all. A gap in my education that your post had encouraged me to fill. Thank you. Lesley