Look the Doll in the Eye

baby skin‘Look the Doll in the Eye’ is a working title of a new project that will explore ideas around women’s self-image, funded by Arts in Essex:

‘…the more women self-objectify, the more likely they are to be depressed.’

(The Guardian 10th June 2012)

The title relates both to the idea that images can ‘unlock’ intuitive responses in the viewer and to the complex relationship women often have with their own self-image.

‘Self-objectification’ is perhaps particularly prevalent in Essex with its ‘TOWIE’ mass media identity and stereotypical ideas of a certain ‘beauty ideal’. This project will serve as an ‘antidote’ to negative self-image. It will offer an opportunity to take part in an art event to make a playful, creative response to such objectification, which will empower women by encouraging them to ‘own’ their self-image. To support this there will be a number of new workshops with teenagers, building on the success of ‘Superstrumps’, my previous female stereotype project with Syd Moore.

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I will be producing a large print run newspaper of the same title:

I have found the ‘free newspaper’ format to be a very useful one: I am interested in its all-pervasive distribution, its accessibility and availability. Rather than trying to bring an audience to the artwork ie into the usual gallery setting, the artwork goes out to the audience – the wider public.

I will also be presenting a ‘live drawing event’ at First Site Colchester:

This will present dolls and mannequins as subject and muse. Although reflecting on complex themes, the emphasis during the event will be on ‘imaginative play’, this will include:

Projecting drawings back on to the self (you literally ‘become’ your drawing) and a collaboration in making life size paper cut-out doll’s clothing, ‘dressing-up’ and documenting as Polaroids.

My work explores feminine identity through my representations of the female figure and the complexities surrounding this image.

‘Look the Doll in the Eye’ refers to the idea that the doll is a perfect vessel in which boundaries dissolve between ‘self’ (human) and ‘object’ (other) and for exploration of our relationship to body image and objectification of the female form. In this way I use the doll as a motif in my work. I’m interested in its role as a silent witness to female narratives, it has a special place in the female imagination and can communicate complex ideas around identity.

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I am currently engaged in research which explores the inter-relationship between drawing as an act of transformation and the female doll as representation of the human ie something that looks human but is not human. This work reveals my perception that drawing itself can be considered to be inherently ‘uncanny’.

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