With love, Elspeth
Red, the colour of love, passion, festivity and danger. Red is the colour of life, blood and your heart. Traditionally, Indian, Indonesian and Chinese women marry in red. The Chinese consider red to be a sign of good luck, success and loyalty and wedding invitations are sent out in red envelopes. An Indian bride wears a red bindi or tikka to demonstrate her marital status.
The Hindu-Urdu word “Lal” means red, but is also a surname meaning precious or beloved. Crimson and scarlet dyes come from the cochineal insect, which products carminic acid. It has been used as a dye in Central and South America since the second century. The Spanish shipped tons of cochineal from Lima to Spain and it was used to dye fabrics, paint towns and colour woman’s cheeks. Today, cochineal is still used to colour food and cosmetics but is hidden under the label of E120.
I visited Mexico many years ago on the lookout for silver and textiles and to take a little time out. I’m hoping to revisit soon in search of new artefacts for Sweetlime and to take inspiration from the many arts and crafts of the country including its fabulous embroideries, folk art and metalwork.
The vibrant colours of Mexico extend to its architecture, with Luis Barragán being the country’s most famous architect. He worked alongside Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn and combined the simplicity of modernist lines with the intoxicating colours of Mexico. His home in Mexico City is now a national museum.
Of course, I can't talk about Mexico and not mention Frida Kahlo.
One of Mexico's greatest artists, Frida's life is portrayed by Salma Hayek in the 2002 movie Frida, directed by Julie Taymor. This movie is a visual feast and a wonderful insight into her life's loves and her highs and lows.
For a taste of Mexico, take a look at the beautifully presented Mexico: the cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte. Over 650 delicious and authentic recipes sandwiched between paper cut-out graphics and lively photographs evoking the spirit and energy of everyday Mexican life.
Open Studios Cornwall
I first met Susie Chaikin at Open Studios Cornwall. I was thrilled to find someone with a Frida Kahlo obsession, which outshone mine. Susie is a mixed media artist, who after living and travelling in Central America for a year, started creating Frida Kahlo-inspired mosaic figures and paintings. Her love of colour and pattern translates perfectly into her work. Enter her world and see her work at Open Studios this May.
Visit Susie's studio