Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Elsie Jones - The Dolls Have Eyes

‘The Dolls Have Eyes’ is a series of works exploring my fascination with dolls.

As a little girl, I played with dolls, but was not especially fond of them. However, as an adult, they have come to fascinate me. My initial interest came from folk art. The strong designs of Kachina dolls attracted me as graphic and sculptural objects. I also became interested in other primitive dolls and figures, and other folk art dolls, such as Japanese Kokeshi dolls. These dolls and figures reinterpret the human form, often reducing it to the simplest elements – a head and a body. Sometimes these forms are stylised and minimal, sometimes they are detailed and heavily decorated, but we always recognise the human form.

The other side of this fascination is with the mass-produced toy. The sophisticated consumerist ideal of Barbie is the epitome of this. Certainly the pink plastic aspirations being presented to little girls need to be questioned, but at the same time, there is, for me, a kitsch appeal in this mini-world of domestic accessories. I love cheap plastic dolls, especially vintage ones in packaging with bold, bright graphics. Souvenir dolls too, are appealing in their conformity, like the Hong Kong dolls which represent so many different nationalities with just a change of costume. They can be loved as nostalgic reminders of childhood. But they can also be re-examined as poor plastic imitations of life. Imperfect dolls whose smiles have been painted crooked or whose hair is mostly detached, who appear to us as dishevelled characters, sometimes with a creepy life of their own.

I am interested in the combination and fusion of all these different elements, along with other interests and influences, such as textile art and costume, feminine and domestic handicrafts, vintage kitsch and graphics, collections, old toys and comic characters, pattern, decoration, and embellishment.

The resulting works are textile figures, altered dolls, and collages, which play with the culture of dolls and costume.

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