How it all started...
Updated: Mar 14
Like many artists I found 2020 to be a rollercoaster year in which long periods of bleak, apathetic, despair were interspersed with brief episodes of frenetic creative productivity. I found it hard to concentrate on anything creative for long - the insistent background hum of bad news has been too distracting - and the effort required to keep making work for shows that got cancelled and galleries that had to shut their doors was, frankly, beyond me.
I found myself retreating into a smaller and smaller space in order to have some control over my life. Quite literally, at one point, when I decamped from my studio to a tiny corner of my home office, where my work station now consists of an adapted butcher's block measuring 60 cm x 49 cm.
Curiously, the self-imposed restraint has been liberating. Being now 'time rich and space poor' I began to explore ideas and methods of working I had always previously dismissed as being too time-consuming and not commercial enough to sell (a gal has to eat!).
Since my earliest memories, miniatures, dolls, and doll's houses have fascinated me. I do, in fact, still own a house that has been waiting patiently to be decorated and furnished for 40 years! (More on that later). Ideas about confinement, restraint, protection, and concealment led me to explore the design and construction of a series of cage figures, which I am still working on.
This is the first in a series of folktale dioramas:
The True Story of Cinderella
The available space inside each cage is just large enough to accommodate 1:12 scale items and furniture - this is the traditional 'doll's house scale'. However, I have to be incredibly selective in which elements I choose to represent a narrative: there have to be enough recognisable 'clues' to draw the viewer in, with some stranger, more oblique references added to intrigue and unsettle. In the case of Cinderella, the shoe on the velvet cushion is an obvious givaway, but look closer, and you will see that the inside of the shoe is red as blood and there is an axe leaning against the chair. And what of the two ravens? If you know the original, gory version of the Cinderella tale, rather than the sanitised, Disneyfied one, you will get the references!