Mexican Craftsmanship On Show

Here in Montevideo one of my favourite museums is the Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indigena,  or Museum of Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Art.     

It’s on Calle 25 Mayo in the Cuidad Vieja.  The permanent exhibitions are always fascinating and I always learn something new.  Definitely a must-visit if you’re coming here to Montevideo.

They also have exciting temporary/visiting exhibitions, and on at the moment until 4/4, with the possibility of extension – is a visiting exhibition of superb Mexican artisanship,  Grandes Maestros del Art Populare Mexicano,  which I enjoyed last week.  Just as in other parts of the world, hand crafted art is constantly under threat of extinction from mass produced stuff, and people are becoming less aware of the importance of traditional crafts. This project and touring exhibition is designed to help promote and preserve the traditions in danger of being lost to younger generations.

I have travelled a little in northern and central Mexico, and have a sister who for nearly 40 years has lived in the extreme south of New Mexico US.   That location has allowed a great deal of travel  across the border down the years, and given her opportunity she has never resisted to collect a large quantity of very fine examples of Mexican folk art.  Mexican ceramics, textiles, wordwork,  cut and textured tin, glassware and clothing are in use in and and decorate her genuine traditional adobe mud brick home in the Rio Grande Valley.  She would love this collection, and many of the pieces in this fantastic exhibition are of crafts and art that I  have met before.   But others were new to me – like this incredible candle wax sculptured altar

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approx 1m w x  90cm h which was displayed in a rather cold air-conditioned room for  obvious reasons!  (It was a pretty hot early march day)


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This 2.5m x 2m hand embroidered cloth could be used on bed, wall or table.  I have a couple of huipils in this technique, plus some small mats and a table runner.


On one wall was hanging a group of different weavings, all in lovely colours and very skillful .  I show the edging of this shawl or scarf  for its featured fringing and feathers – quite beautiful.

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Embossed and cut metal sheeting is used a lot  for frames  and light fittings, and this one around a mirror is superb:

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From Oaxaca comes  wonderful hand painted wooden items particularly animals birds insect and fish, of which these are the largest examples I’ve seen.  We have some nice pieces at home in Australia, too, but they are much smaller.  The spotted cat-like creature, jaguar perhaps, is about 80cm long x 35cm high.

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The beautiful ceramic candelabra itself is perhaps 60cm tall and the candles add another 20cm approx.  Talk about intricate, delicate and downright fragile – heavens’ knows what the bill for packing and transporting this stuff was!!

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And, finally, some Day of The Dead ceramic figurines at a funeral …

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Apart from my delight at seeing this beautifully hand crafted art work and so much of it – 600 pieces – the wonderful thing about the exhibition is that it is here in Montevideo.  If you’re coming soon, or live here, take an hour or  two to enjoy it:


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