Frida Kahlo Making Her Self Up at the V & A

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Frida with Olmec figurine, by Nickolas Muray, 1939, Coyoacán, Mexico. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives



By Fred Harris

Since becoming completely wheelchair bound  the possibility of just jumping in the car and setting off on an adventure alone has stopped!…but gladly the want hasn’t! and today was one of those days…

Frida Khalo at the V & A is an exhibition I’d wanted to see for a while.  Her struggles with a disability after an accident seemed more personal now…So here’s how my wheelchair away day went!

Frida Kahlo V & A Exhibit

Frida in a magenta rebozo, by Nickolas Muray, 1938, Coyoacán, Mexico. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Firstly, I got the bus to the station…got a space quite easily no babies in prams or double buggies this morning (Jeremy Kyle must have been good!) I arrived at the station only to be informed that trains from here, due to a timetable change, no longer go to Charing Cross but terminate at London Victoria…

Frida Kahlo Photograph by Getty images


So the train arrives and a big yellow metal ramp is fetched, unfolded and placed onto the train, I then ceremoniously rode up the ramp into the carriage, resembling an overweight chicken on a conveyor belt in a factory. lol!

Frida Kahlo at 4 years of age, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1911

Frida at 4 years of age, by Guillermo Kahlo, 1911, Coyoacán, Mexico. © Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Archives. Bank of Mexico, Fiduciary in the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum Trust

The disabled area of the train is in a carriage with a huge sliding door that led to the toilet…from Gillingham to Victoria 27 people used it, everyone of whom was told how to use the open/close buttons by an elderly man sitting near the door, who had assumed the role of the toilet attendant for the entire journey! The countryside whizzed passed as indeed did the graffitti filled walls and all the gardens full of trampolines.

Frida Kahlo's support boots

Prosthetic leg with leather boot. Photograph Fred Harris.

The train pulled into Victoria and as if by magic a man dressed in high vis was there to greet me with my dis-embarkation ramp…I was told by a nice lady at the station info desk that the C1 bus would take me right to the V & A Museum and true to her word, it did!  The ride was quite scenic, passing Sloane Square, Harvey Nicks and Harrods. There were plenty of people shopping and designer handbags seemed to be very popular…

V & A museum at night

The V & A in December at Night


The V & A appeared as it should and in the foyer was a large round info/ticket desk, I approached it and spoke to a botoxed lady who informed me that the exhibition had sold out! I pleaded to her on bended wheels explaining how far I had come, but it was a firm NO as apparently people from all over the world have been turning up without booking online and they had all been turned away too!

Kristjana S. Williams Frida Kahlo painting


As a consolation prize, I wheeled myself into the gift shop! It was there that I had a brainwave…so I put my electric wheelchair into top speed and sped round to the exhibition entrance.  Darn! a man was checking the tickets! So I positioned myself up the corridor away from him and as people passed, I quietly asked if any peeps had any spare tickets, I felt like a beggar off the streets! But guess what! Freddy got a golden ticket from a young couple whose friend hadn’t shown…Even better they let me have it for free!

Frida Khalo - Leo Matiz silk scarf with fringe detail


So in I went…

The exhibition was fantastic…Never before had Frida been exhibited outside of Mexico!  So I took a few pictures on my iphone before being told it was NOT allowed! OoOOoPpPsS!  There were lots of photographs, her original paintings and even her clothes had many mannequins on display…being there meant that I could really relate to her story, as I have always liked art, but my personal disabilities have allowed me in a bizzare way, to be more creative…I suppose it’s because I have a lot of time to kill inbetween painkillers!

poster and postcards from the Frida Kahlo Exhibition

As with all attractions nowadays it was exit via the gift shop and it was like being transported to Mexico…loud music…lots of bright colours and of course Frida’s eclectic style of jewellery.  I wanted to buy a nice scarf but at £125!…I settled with a display poster, a book and some postcards instead!.

Gillingham to Victoria Disabled carriage table

Time to summon the C1 bus and get back to Victoria!…and check me out (above)…I even got the world’s smallest table on the train journey home!

I had a really brilliant time and I would recommend you all to go and see the exhibition…Frida Khalo was an incredible SuperHuman and so ahead of her time! But do remember to book online first!

Motto of the Day
Don’t give up…keep trying!

Have you been to see the show and if so, what were your favourite bits?
Or what other exhibitions have you been to see lately?
Please share in the comments section below…

Until next time…

Freddy x

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