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V&A curator bringing tales of Frida Kahlo to Cambridge

Claire Wilcox is senior curator of exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Next week, she'll be giving an illustrated talk on iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo at The Perse School on Hills Road.

Entitled 'Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up', the talk - with PowerPoint presentation - will take place on Monday, February 25.

The presentation will focus on Kahlo's interesting and often turbulent life and the very successful exhibition at the V&A, which ran from June to November last year.

This exhibition at the V&A presented an extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to Kahlo, who died in 1954.

Locked away for 50 years after her death, it was the first exhibition of this particular collection outside Mexico.

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939
Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939

As well as being the senior curator of exhibitions at the museum, Claire is also chair in fashion curation at the London College of Fashion.

She said: "The exhibition has just opened in Brooklyn, but the talk was arranged during the run of the exhibition [in London], so presumably some people who come to the talk will have seen the exhibition.

"I'm not assuming that everyone will have done, so I'll talk about the exhibition, how it came about and just some information about Frida Kahlo herself and the story of the treasure trove that was discovered in 2004."

Claire notes that last year's exhibition included a number of items that had never been seen before outside of Mexico.

"That was one of the incredible things about the show," she said, "because there have been a lot of exhibitions of Frida Kahlo's paintings - at any one time there's bound to be an exhibition of Kahlo's work on somewhere in the world - but the exhibiting of these personal artefacts was a first because most of the material was only discovered in 2004.

"For them to leave Mexico was a very special gift of the Mexican government to allow this."

Cotton huipil with machine-embroidered chain stitch belonging to Frida Kahlo (7294829)
Cotton huipil with machine-embroidered chain stitch belonging to Frida Kahlo (7294829)

On the ongoing fascination with Frida Kahlo, Claire said: "She really seems to speak to our times, doesn't she? I think that she was a person who managed her difficult life and her physical disabilities by creating a sort of persona that overlaid her vulnerability.

"Frida, during most of her lifetime, was not known for her art, but for her personality and her appearance, and she was strikingly charismatic and strikingly photogenic.

"She knew how to pose for the camera, and she had learnt how to do this through her father who was a photographer.

"I think that these charismatic properties have somehow carried over the decades through photography, but then of course through her self-portraits where she depicts a slightly different version of herself, a more tormented, suffering identity that she expressed through her art."

There will be a wine reception at 7pm, followed by the talk, which starts at 7.30pm.

Tickets £12.00 (includes wine). Tickets are available from 01799 541180 or 01638 751474, or sctcambridge@gmail.com.

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