About 'Playing with Dolls’


As a female child in the 60’s, for most girls, dolls were the preferred presents and occupation, I had little time for dolls in the usual sense preferring making things out of other things, building lego and creating vast armies out of acorns and fighting them against hordes of Fushia flower ballerinas. But I was intrigued and delighted by what could be done to them, what they could take and how they could become something utterly new! 

Hair was coloured, shorn or glued into fearsome spikes, scalps were painted or covered in dubious substances. Eyes were removed and replaced with bright beads, tin foil and marbles. Skin was gouged, marked and drawn upon in intricate patterns of dots and circles making any doll into a reptilian curious creature that I thought was a vast improvement. Barbie and Ken had many strange siblings through the years.

This particular work, like other works, has been reworked and ‘perfected’ over many months, almost like shedding or growing new skin as time, place and circumstance changes.

 I wanted to use the 5/6-year-old child size figure as a touchstone to my younger self, seeing it as a completion of yet another cycle, a recognition and nod to my earliest thoughts and fascinations and as a return to source.

Over the last 5 years or so, I have made a body of work in this style from the tiniest 5cm piece to a life size female torso. I consider ‘Playing with Dolls’ to be the most complete in this project to date, containing a palimpsest of meanings, materials and mark making. However, I hope in the future to make a life size woman in a similar method.

 I have always been attracted to the multiple, to repetition, patterning and infestation qualities but with this work in particular I also wanted the mark of my hand to be seen in the added drawings and embellishments, to make it my own. The synthetic, the perfect has almost swallowed this child but the human mark, the human stain, the human history remains.


I have often used the image of an eye, usually my own as a motif, a sign of communication, of the regarded and regarding, a dialogue. But using the mass-produced plastic googly eye translates well for the message of these works. 
The googly eye, in its perfect circle, perfect dot, perfect shine, provides not only the exact multitude materiality but also adds a new spooky otherness element to the work. The redemption of the everyday through its transformation into a new thing, a new meaning.

  I can produce other variations (including colours) by commission. Please contact me HERE to discuss.


Playing with Dolls 2019