Much media attention has previously focused on the UK Prime Minister’s shoes. That attention has now switched to accessories, specifically to a bracelet Teresa May wore at the recent Tory Party conference.
The bracelet, a set of colourful, chunky rectangles, reproduces images of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who wrote about her work, in a 1951 dairy entry,
I feel uneasy about my painting. Above all I want to transform it into something useful for the Communist revolutionary movement, since up to now I have only painted the earnest portrayal of myself.
The work of such an artist makes an unlikely accessory for a Conservative and Unionist Party leader. But, on reflection, perhaps not. In these globalised post-modern days, every image and artefact is available to everyone with the money to buy it and it can mean whatever the purchaser wishes.
What was Teresa May thinking when she chose that bracelet?
Did she wish to have a dig at her rival, Jeremy Corbyn, exhibiting her ability to appropriate material Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues might consider theirs? Was she aping the self-fashioning so grandly displayed by pop singer Madonna, one of the most avid collectors of the work of Frida Kahlo? Or did she just like the shape, the weight and the colour of the bracelet and have no idea about the life of Frida Kahlo, her politics and her work?
Will Jeremy Corbyn be seen with a Winston Churchill tie-pin and British Bulldog cuff-links next time out?
Similar Frida Kahlo bracelets retail on-line for £31.57.
Did a simple, uninformed consumer choice lead to the unintended consequence of a coughing fit and a public-speaking melt-down, produced by a communist hex delivered by the bracelet?
Did Boris Johnson give the bracelet to her, as a present?
Was she simply showing how culturally hip, metropolitan and internationalist she is?
More people may become interested in Frida Kahlo’s life and work as an artist in Mexico, perhaps another unintended effect of the UK Prime Minister’s choice of accessory. Everyone can welcome that, including Jeremy Corbyn and his allies.
Are these no more than beautiful trinkets worn by the powerful, simply because, in today’s post-modern, globalised consumer world, they can, regardless of association, symbolism or meaning?
“We own everything, because we can buy everything. Even beauty.”
Did Frida Kahlo know her images and her words would adorn Teresa May, dreamer of austerity and righteous inequality?
I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.
I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.