1999. h:40.5cms x w:41cms (unframed).
I have used this doll before in ‘Parasol”. She is a beautiful little Indian rag doll with a stitched-on face. I think the fact that her face is threaded on is very poignant and full of symbolic richness. Where is her beauty: in her removable face, her clothes, or her jewellery? Does she present a problematic discourse about female beauty? I decided to make a painting about her and where her fragile beauty lies. So, in this context, I was struck by a well-known nursery rhyme: ‘Ickle Ockle Blue Bockle Fishes in the Sea f you want a pretty maid Please choose me.’ I used shisha embroidery to attach glass mirrors to the painting. The reflections engage the viewers in seeing themselves as they gaze at the subject of the painting and consider her plea. I used Olive’s embroidery silks in this piece (see ‘You May Call Me Olive’). For centuries, women have put their stories, strength and dreams into the threads they have sewn, needles they have plied and the beads of their decorative crafts. In this painting the combination of doll, nursery rhyme, applied decorative embroidery and beads gives a context in which to consider a girl’s perceived beauty, worth or desirability.
Artwork Group Image: