I bought a set of unadorned wooden nesting dolls from Russia.
It’s a set of ten dolls that I’ve sanded down and sprayed with white enamel – so many coats to cover the bare wood! Every time I went into the studio, they got another coat. Each doll will incorporate a black and white design on one of the four themes of the exhibition: home, place, repair, plant. There’s something endlessly fascinating about nesting dolls – the humanness of the form, their femininity, their symbolism of motherhood and fertility.
I wondered how best to display them – inside one another, separately or with an object/s relating to the the themes inside each doll. I’ve decided on the latter, so there’s an element of interaction with each doll. They are designed to be taken apart and played with after all. My mother was staying with me in the summer and saw the dolls for the first time. She suggested the wonderful idea of displaying them with a mirror behind – that really would echo ‘we think back through…’ from the title of the exhibition.
Tonight I have been creating a cloak for the largest of the dolls – Matryoshka. I’ve been enjoying stitching and embroidering the designs, black thread on white, over the past few weeks. At last, it’s almost complete. Her cloak represents all the other dolls and contains an image from each of them – an embracement.
She is about mending; her cloak will remain unfinished and she will contain within her, some things to repair.