When I first saw Kahlo's paintings I was drawn to the ghoulish images of birth and the way she played with gender identity, often painting herself as a man or specifically as her husband Diego Rivero. Frida was her own muse and her own subject and she describes her work and her image as 'making herself up'. This was the name of the recent exhibition at the V&A, which I visited having already written my song about the artist.
I don't claim to be an expert on Frida Kahlo and will happily bow to the knowledge of others. In writing the song I was awe inspired by Frida's strength and creativity and wanted to pay homage to this in my own work. Let me explain some of the imagery included in my song with the hope that it gives an insight into my love of Kahlo and her impact on my view of female power and creativity.
Firstly, I am well aware that her bones were not actually made of glass. But the amount of times that her bones were broken they may as well have been. Frida had Polio as a child and then was involved in a devastating bus crash in her teens. The result was that she was in great pain much of the time and lived her life in various plaster corsets and frames that literally held her together. Later in the song, when I talk about Frida's wishes coming true and living in jars, I refer to her deep wish to have a child and her many pregnancies that miscarried early. Frida painted her foetuses and used painting to express her loss and pain in a way that many women relate to. Her babies were 'frozen in time', and I can't imagine the hurt of this.
I refer to Frida's marriage to Diego as a cage made of rings. This is really my own personal experience coming through and I know that its heavily debated about the impact Diego and Frida had on each other and each others' works. Until Frida's house was unsealed, and her possessions and secret things were analysed; it was thought that Frida dressed the way she did to please her husband. We now know that Kahlo paid great attention to what she wore and how she presented herself to the world. Her large skirts hid a prosthetic leg and the difficulty she had in walking. The flowers imbued life and vitality. Photos and narratives suggest that Frida fully dressed up whether she was home alone or out in the world. She was as much creating her own sense of self as she was an outward presentation. This is why I write: 'every day a brush paints a picture I long to portray'.
'Paint away' has a dual meaning. It's about getting lost in the moment, but also erasing and then creating an image. There is a sketch by Frida Kahlo in which she covers her bad leg in butterflies underneath her skirts. I love this image. To me it says, know your faults and make them beautiful. I believe we create the person we want to be every day and Frida inspires that in me.
Frida urges me to write more honestly and clearly. To perform authentically and sing out my truth to all that will listen. And to be more myself everyday, because that's the only thing I can offer to the people around me. I can feel that my writing is getting deeper and more personal and I sometimes feel like I have to swim up to the surface and check that this is still a pool people can relate to.
'Hope rests eternal' is the motif that rings out from the chorus of this song. Hope is at the root of and underlies what we strive to create as humans. It's what makes our souls sing and fly. More than any other of my songs, I hope that the overwhelming message in 'Frida' is hope.
|My dress choice was inspired by the vibrancy of Kahlo's paintings.|