Jennifer Clement on women, art, creativity & why we love Frida Kahlo

My guest today has lived, well, a life like no other. The writer Jennifer Clement grew up in 1960s Mexico, at the tail end of the Mexican Golden Age, next door to the former home and extended family of seminal artist Frida Kahlo. As a teenager she moved to New York, where she inhabited the artistic downtown world of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. She was - and still is - a magnet for the creative and surreal.

But Mexico had her heart. Since returning to Mexico City, she has written many books, including the cult classic Widow Basquiat and Prayers for the Stolen which became an award-winning Netflix film. Jennifer was also the first and only woman president of the writers human rights organisation PEN International in its 100+ year history.

In her memoir, The Promised Party, Jennifer looks back at an extraordinary youth spent with artists and revolutionaries, and examines the way it shaped her.

Jennifer joined me from her home in Mexico City to talk about playing in Frida Kahlo’s bathtub and why Kahlo’s art speaks to so many women, why so much women’s art is still sidelined, and how she developed a passion ethic not a work ethic. We also discussed rebellion, running away, the power of girlfriends, how acting on dreams can change your life and why her mother has been taking HRT for 50 (yes five oh) years

If you loved this episode, you might also like my conversations with Isabel Allende and Esther Freud.

* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on, including The Promised Party by Jennifer Clemenet and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me.

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The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Juliette Nicholls @ Pineapple Audio Production. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

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