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 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 Ewa Giera

Content warning: xenophobia, discrimination

The Day of the Duck, by Helen Stratford and Lawrence Bradby, takes form of neither a scripted play, nor a novel: intertwined with visual diagrams, elements of script and a simple, character-driven narrative, the book is a unique experience as opposed to a traditional novel. The story revolves around a Muscovy duck, the last of its species in a town heavily based on Ely in Cambridgeshire, whose goal is to discover why its brethren have all disappeared. The book is framed as a noir detective-style plot – the Muscovy duck takes on the role of the detective and asks all the uncomfortable questions to people whose names it’s not concerned with, which serves the aim of having the characters translate as everymen.Continue Reading


by Carmina Masoliver

I don’t know about you, but sometimes there is nothing like cathartic screaming vocals to accompany me as I walk through busy city streets. For this reason, I’ve spent the past few weeks with GRLwood’s ‘scream-pop’ album ‘Daddy’ on repeat. The title itself seems to allude to dom men in sexual relationships, which is explored in the track ‘I’m Yr Dad’. Here, the lead singer takes on this dominant role, repeating the track title as drum beats build up and guitars join in until it becomes a scream. Fronted by Louisville’s guitarist Rej Forester and drummer Karen Ledford, who have described themselves as ‘2 angry lesbian genderfuck feminists’, the song explores ideas that poet Lisa Luxx expressed in an article for Slutever recently in terms of the use of strap-ons in queer relationships, as though ‘the general consensus is that a cis woman’s body is incomplete as a sexual tool, and dick is needed because dick represents sex.’

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by Eli Lambe

Created as a collaboration between Menagerie Theatre Company and the University of Cambridge Geography department, The Great Austerity Debate is a collaborative experience aiming to bring the experiential and material consequences of austerity into focus through the life of one single mum, Megan.

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