Woven and printed clothing labels with dressmaker pins on canvas 30x30cm unframed.
It is Frida Kahlo’s love of luxurious clothing that set the seed for the creation of her portrait using woven and printed clothing labels. My use of dressmaker pins also reflecting on Frida’s suffering as each label is neatly added to the portrait with a pin.
After a thorough search through my archive I found an interesting set of woven and printed labels that reflect some of Frida’s life and personality. Colour played a very important part in Frida’s wardrobe and a vibrant green label woven with the words BROW provides the perfect reference to her unmistakable image. In the top left hand corner of the canvas is a small printed label of a mother, father and a child, a reminder of the influence that both parents had on Frida, although greatly opposite. The bottom left hand corner shows a printed label of a baby, just popping out from behind a label marked BROW. Following the trolley bus accident Frida was not able to carry a child through pregnancy, causing her much distress, also referenced in the top right hand corner of the canvas through the image of a broken heart and bones. A tiny butterfly label is placed beside the bones and has been included to show how Frida developed a great interest in the natural world, to such an extent that I have awarded her the Beaver Scout Badge towards her outdoor challenge.
A monkey sits on Frida’s shoulder, just one of the many pets that offered her a sense of security and unconditional love. I could not resist including the two woven hand labels showing Frida wearing the earrings that were given to her by Pablo Picasso during her stay in Paris. In the final corner of the canvas I have pinned a label in reverse, the woven threads perfectly representing the green, white and red of the Mexican flag, a passionate subject for Frida Kahlo. Also in reverse are the labels used for Frida’s mouth, eyes and the set of red flowers clustered in her hair.
The only way to assemble a portrait at this reduced scale is by using the small size labels to build up the detail and contours of the skin and hair. Frida’s moustache has been highlighted by using these to create a shadow, and also placed in vertical rows as tears flowing from her eyes. Frida’s cheeks are highlighted in dark pink as well as the pink ribbon braded through her hair. Last but certainly not least are Frida’s eyebrows, a black row of 9 size labels neatly pinned from temple to temple and beautifully meeting in the middle.