Nature of Mending

The Journey, Exploring the Nature of Mending
Priests House

‘The Journey’ Exploring the Nature of Mending, has taken me from the mending of broken feathers, research into prosthetic limb design and production, to exploring new materials such as polymorph granules and then most surprisingly, back to painting.

Much of my previous work can be found to have an element of repair and renewal within it, but the opportunity to work with the Priests House Museum has added another dimension. I was given access to the storage areas and the highly charged atmosphere around finding the dolls their attic became a starting point for my investigations. This led, through issues about discrimination and equality, to places such as the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, the Ashmoleon in Oxford and the magnificent National Gallery.

Dolls have a particular resonance for me. They are more than just objects. The doll I chose to work with has a badly damaged leg made of wax and I found it was quite rare (probably a Montenari doll dating from the 1870s) and rather valuable, so Calico Doll was made as a substitute that I could handle. Making and painting the Botticelli Venus leg, which is one of a series of prosthetic limbs made for Wax Doll, rekindled my interest in representational painting.

I painted a portrait of Wax Doll, followed by another eight portraits of the damaged dolls now kept in the museum’s new storage facilities. This series, ‘Auto-enhance’, links to the installation shown at the Priests House Museum where mirrors reflect the dolls lying in their cardboard boxes. For me mending became about revealing.

Above right: ‘Artifice’ 12 Prosthetic Legs For Wax Doll (WPH 1972.46) 50h x 34cms diameter. Victorian glass dome: suspended legs, mixed media
9 Right Legs Amputated From Found Dolls
20h x 95w Variety of dolls legs attached to canvas with wire
7 Prosthetic legs For WPH 1972.46
20h x 95w Polymorph granules attached to canvas with wire
. ‘Artifice’ 12 Prosthetic Legs For Wax Doll (WPH 1972.46)  

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