By Gunnar Eigener

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”

Malcolm X

The US midterm elections will just about be complete by now and regardless of the outcome, something fundamental has changed. It’s subtle but significant, obvious but difficult to place. The will of the people (how many times have we heard that) will be followed but it is how the will of the people has been coerced that has changed. In the past, while campaigning has never been a polite business and politicians of all parties seek to undermine their opponents, the ultimate goal has always been the unification of a country, the understanding that whoever wins, the idea is to help the country achieve success and to help individuals thrive. Yet this year, more than most, is seeing the accumulation of toxic politics, which may foreshadow how politics will be carried out in the future.

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By Tom McGhie

It’s about half past six as we pull up outside the Brickmakers, the once great bastion of free music and celebrated Norwich venue. In the fading evening light, I can still make out the instantly recognisable logo of the guitar which adorns the pub’s entrance – a beacon of sorts for music lovers and punters all over East Anglia. The ‘Brickies’ is large enough to accommodate 300 people and on most Fridays and Saturdays it does so, playing host to many raucous rock gigs and performances. However, as with all local music venues, on non-gig nights the atmosphere in these places is far less febrile and only dedicated drinkers and regulars frequent the venue.

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by Carmina Masoliver

There is a challenge when it comes to depicting figures that are as familiar to us as Freddie Mercury. First meeting a young Farrokh Bulsara, we are endeared to him from the onset, and taken into his world in a way that means we feel for him, even when he acts out later along the line.

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By Lewis Martin

Last week, the news broke that three universities in the UK are facing bankruptcy if they don’t receive financial help from the government. One institution in the North West and two in the South of England, all unnamed, are having to survive on short term loans in order to function on a basic level. Most concerningly, one of them is already in talks with insolvency lawyers, suggesting that it could be filing for bankruptcy before the academic year is out.

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by Carmina Masoliver

Ever since I studied Frida Kahlo in class, I have been a fan. Self Portrait with Monkeys (1943) and The Broken Column (1944) always stood out in my mind from those years, the monkeys offering a protective symbolism, and the latter painting signifying a kind of strength through suffering. Like Kahlo, I enjoyed painting self-portraits, and I found it difficult to paint other faces with the same accuracy.

More of a conceptual artist myself, the stories behind visual art have always intrigued me. Whenever I visit galleries, my eyes are drawn as much to the text as they are the images. This is why the excellent biopic Frida (2002), starring Salma Hayek, made an enormous impression on me and it’s also why I knew that the V&A exhibition Making Her Self Up would be unmissable.

it is certainly worth remembering what Kahlo stood for, namely her rejection of capitalism.

Like other revolutionary figures – think: Che Guevara t-shirts – it has been argued that Kahlo has been commodified and made into a pop culture icon in a way that dissociates from her as an artist and a human being. Whilst I couldn’t resist a pair of Kahlo earrings from Mexican designers wajiro dream on a recent visit and own a tribute cushion cover from an Etsy store, it is certainly worth remembering what Kahlo stood for, namely her rejection of capitalism.

Kahlo was radical in her politics, and this extended into her personal life as a bisexual woman, her lifelong disability due to polio, the tragic accident in 1922, and her honesty about her experiences with miscarriage and abortion, which continue to be topics that are brushed under the carpet even today, 64 years after her death.

we can only assume her way of dealing with the hurt from his affairs (including one with her own sister) was to have her own, thus reclaiming her autonomy and sexual agency.

She suffered not only physically, but also emotionally. Her tumultuous relationship with fellow artist and communist Diego Rivera, is perhaps a historic example of how some politically progressive men can fail at upholding egalitarian and feminist values when it comes to personal relationships. The couple divorced, only to remarry, and we can only assume her way of dealing with the hurt from his affairs (including one with her own sister) was to have her own, thus reclaiming her autonomy and sexual agency.

The exhibition helps to tell Kahlo’s story, a story that has been told so often that it surprises me when people have not heard of her, or do not know about her life or her work as an artist. Yet, there is always more to discover, and the collection at the V&A allows us to learn yet more about her. Having been locked away for fifty years following Kahlo’s death, various personal artefacts and clothing are uncovered here for the first time outside of Mexico.


Kahlo’s The Broken Column, 1944

Inside the exhibition you will see photographs alongside some of her paintings, as well as artefacts that are more emotionally difficult to look at, such as the medical corsets she had to wear, some decorated by Kahlo. It was being bedridden that ironically created the works that we see today, with Kahlo having a mirror installed above her bed so she could paint her self-portraits more easily. There’s film footage of La Casa Azul (The Blue House), and incredible outfits on display that combine her signature long skirts and traditional shawls.

Kahlo, in both her portraits and real life, rejected traditional beauty standards by wearing her facial hair with pride, yet would always paint her lips and thread flowers and fabric through her hair. Whilst at times the exhibition seems to exhibit too many fine details from her life, and I’m wondering if we will see a spike in sales in her favourite lipstick, there is something to gain both for fans who are familiar with her work, and those just beginning to discover her world.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up has been extended until Sunday 18th November. Limited tickets can be bought on the day at 10am from the Grand Entrance on a first-come, first-served basis.

Featured photo credit: Carl Van Vechten (public domain)

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By Eli Lambe

There are individual, form-based and contextual reasons the performance of Slam Poetry often goes viral – as a form it is rooted not in the appearance of words on a page, but in the exchange between poet and audience, the intense and intentional circulation of emotion between the two. Originally conceived as a way of getting out from stuffy academic interactions with poetry, the form has grown since the first slams in the 1980’s and has, over the last decade, been reaching wider and wider audiences through YouTube and social media.

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By Jonathan Lee

Fifteen Romani men, women and children were murdered in 2017 and 2018 because of their ethnicity. From Bulgaria to France, Roma as young as 13 and as old as 64 were shot, stabbed or beaten to death by racist murderers from across Europe.

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