The Madness of Ocumicho
Ocumicho sits at the foot of a volcano in the state of Michocan, Mexico. It is not the Mexico that you imagine of deserts and sombreros but is vast and beautiful peppered with extinct volcanoes and lakes. It wavers between looking like the Lake District with cacti to looking like August in England after a long hot summer. The women take great pride in their appearance wearing the traditional reboso and plaiting their hair. Their colourful attire is in marked contrast to the adobe , wooden and now concrete structures. Ocumicho was until recently only accessible along a dirt track, which was impassable during the wet season. At an altitude of 2800m and enjoys cold nights and warm days.
Ocumicho has a long tradition of making utilitarian in pots and that would have continued if one of the villagers had not turned his dreams into clay. He turned clay into devils. Everyone laughed a first but when he started to attract the attention of collectors and traders, the village started to mimic his style of work. He died young in a drunken brawl. However his style continues four decades later.
It is mostly the women who work the clay. Eighty percent of the men in the village work in the USA. They have pit kilns in their houses and keep the completed pottery preciously wrapped in the bedrooms. They give free reign to their imagination and no two pieces are alike.
After the Spanish conquest images of native gods were replaced with Virgins, saints, devils and angels. They work with their own myths folklore but also weave in ideas from contemporary culture seen on the television and ideas brought by foreign buyers. When we went their the was a representation of the 9/11 with a plane crashing into the twin towers, women screaming for help on their mobiles and flames licking the towers while a crowd of horrified onlookers just stared. A Bayeaux tapestry of today. There was also a reworking of the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci with mermaids eating watermelons.