A Tribute to Ireland and Mexico bound together by Love and beyond Death
Clifden Arts Festival is proud to present in conjunction with Galway 2020 Cultural Horizons programme an exhibition of the works of Gabriella Cortés. The Exhibition will be on display in the Clifden Arts Festival Office Window on Bridge Street Clifden.
We use the word “death” to emphasize what we love the most in life. We say such things as “I love you to death,” “I hate you to death,” “drop-dead gorgeous”, “this is to die for,” etc. Perhaps these expressions are a confirmation of our weakness as human beings upon the imminent fact that no one has been able to escape from Death. This Irish-Mexican Hat Collection is a tribute to the eternal harmony of Love and Death.
In a world that has lost its way with Death, Mexico and Ireland still remember our ancestors’ teachings, the Maya and the Celts. Their ancient respect and fascination with Death have prevailed in our cultures even today, and thanks to them, we can relearn the oldest lessons of humanity like how to overcome the death of a loved one, how to face our own death, and how to teach our children to face theirs. That is why we celebrate Dia de los Muertos and Samhain to honor our dead loved ones because we truly keep hope in our hearts that we will see each other again. This Love that transcends Death is an ancestral and communal coping mechanism that allows us to embrace Death as part of life and we should not fear it.
In this hat collection, we also explore themes like bravery, traditions, and pride to be oneself. Another topic we painted between lines is a subtle mockery in the style of Mexican humour, of those who are ashamed of who they are. To be truly human is to bear the burden of our own mortality and accept ourselves the way we are. Death is a constant reminder that life is too short to be ashamed of who we are, so let’s love Ourselves to Death. Let’s love together in life; let’s laugh together with Death, not at Her. Let’s die together for Love, and let’s drink tequila together beyond Death
“With a Cactus on the Heart”
For this hat, we took inspiration from the classic Irish Claddagh ring and the Mexican cactus. We played with the idea of altering the Claddagh ring’s traditional elements, which is a heart with a crown held by a pair of hands. The theme of Death prevails with the skeleton hands holding the heart, while the unjustified shame of having a “cactus on the forehead” dies with the proud crowning of the “cactus on the heart.” This hat is Mexico and Ireland, loving and holding each other in life and Death.
This photography of Frida Kahlo was the inspiration for this hat. We altered Frida’s image and painted a whimsical version of her as part sugar skull and part Catrina, who proudly wears her Irish knot earrings. Meanwhile, a hummingbird moves its wings while it whispers this message of love to her heart: “I, who fell in love with your wings, will never want to cut them off.”
This loving message is actually a quote from Frida.
Our main inspiration for this hat is Mexican cowboys called Charros, highly skilled horse riders with wide-brimmed hats. Right up front, a Celtic cross emerges. On the back of the hat, an Irish Charro surprises you with his impressive charro hat and Celtic details. This charro is also part Catrin, a dandy-like gentleman and part revolutionary charro with his pistols.
Crown of Cactus
For this hat, we also took inspiration from the traditional Irish Claddagh ring, followed by a Mexican cactus and Death’s skeleton hands. The cactus crown bursts forth from the heart, which is held by the hands of Death. The cactuses are proudly extending towards the sky after their crowning. This hat is Mexico and Ireland intertwined with Death.
The inspiration for this hat evolved from the idea of portraying a conceptual Frida with Irish elements, like the harp, shamrocks, and a calaverita hairpin. At first glance, this is an uncomplicated design that looks like a traditional iconic Frida face. But once you take a look at the details, you realize this is a very Irish Frida surrounded by dainty Celtic knots.
The inspiration for this hat is an homage to the artwork of the cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada, the Catrina as the quintessential Mexican symbol of Death. This iconic image was initially known as Calavera Garbancera, in which Posada critiques poor Mexicans who are obsessed with appearances and living a European lifestyle. That is why his Catrina is naked and is wearing an extravagant Sunday hat, which is a blatant mockery of this pretentious attitude. Inspired by Posada’s art, we added colour and dressed the Catrina, so we don’t forget that poor or rich, clothed or naked, Death comes to us all. This hat is the only one in the collection without Irish details. We wanted to keep this Catrina 100% Mexican.
For this hat, we took inspiration from the colorful embroideries of Tenango de Doria, Hidalgo. Their extraordinary works of art are entirely handmade. Their art has influenced fashion designers like Carolina Herrera, whose Resort 2020 collection took inspiration from Otomí tenangos. Initially, the fashion house did not give credit to Otomí’s influence on their work. Even if they finally admitted to taking inspiration from Mexico’s artisans, they did not directly give the Otomí community credit. It is an honor to present you with this handpainted design of a skull and Celtic cross with a colorful tenango style inspired in the artwork of the Otomí community.
The inspiration for this hat is Frida Kahlo’s painting “The Two Fridas,” in which she portrayed her duality, the Ultra-Mexican Frida and the Uber- German Frida. Frida loved these two versions of herself. That is why she represented herself with two hearts connected to the same artery beating with the same intensity and the same love, never ashamed of her Mexican roots and proud of her European origins. We wanted to pay tribute to Kahlo with our “Two Friditas” hat. One Fridita is 100% Mexican, and the other 100% Irish. The Irish Fridita is ready to dance and holds a tiny cactus heart between her dainty hands, she is European, but her heart is Mexican. The proud Mexican Fridita is also holding a small heart that reminds us of the Irish Claddagh ring, she is Mexican, but her heart is European. We also added several pieces of filigree earrings to honor Frida’s passion for Mexican jewelry. This hat is all about unconditional love for Mexico and Ireland. Because there is no heart as beautiful as the one who divides itself out of love and continues to be great.
The inspiration for this hat comes from an amazing chapter in both Irish and Mexican histories.
The awe-inspiring San Patricio Battalion, a group of immigrant soldiers who were mostly Irish and gave their lives to defend Mexico from the United States invasion in 1846-48. These brave men were under the command of John Riley, an Irish commander born in Cliffden, County Galway. The battalion was affectionately called the San Patricios, and they forged the foundations of the unique friendship that still prevails between Ireland and Mexico.
In this hat, we included elements of the San Patricios Battalion’s banner’s original design, like shamrocks and the inscription “Erin go Bragh”, plus a Celtic cross with a Death element. We also included Mexican features portrayed in Mexico’s flag, like the eagle standing on a cactus holding a serpent between its claws.
The San Patricios died for Mexico, a country in which they were not born, but it certainly did have the honour of seeing them die like brave men. Long live the San Patricios!
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