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The Artist And Her Doll.

Updated: Apr 2

I’m starting this post with a TRIGGER WARNING - mention of infant death and birth trauma.




I’ve been thinking a lot about my inner child and how to nurture and give her what she needs so I can boldly go into the future on my own terms. As an adult I have sought out affection which was lacking as a child. 


In my 20’s I sought affection in the form of one night stands, hoping the allure of my sex would make them love me. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t the case. I would end up feeling worse, desperate for the phone to ring or to catch them on another night out. A lot of the time I was drunk and judgment unsound, rarely did I actually want to shag them, I wanted touch, intimacy and to be validated as attractive. What a fucking awful frame of mind to be in. I did not love myself then as I do now and it has taken until the age of 50 to not be looking to men to validate my attractiveness. The patriarchy is an actual fucker and it can fuck the fuck off. 


Anyway…


Reflecting on where affection has come in my life, I have no recollection of hugs from my parents, I’m sure they did, I just don’t remember any. Not even after the traumatic birth of my daughter or in the face of teenage trauma in the form of my 10 month old sister dying from cot death. (I’ve just googled ‘would experiencing the death of a baby sibling as a 14 year old count as trauma?’ Just to check if it was classed as a trauma, the answer may be obvious to most of you but just in case it wasn’t, the answer was yes.). During the time my sister died myself, my 2 brothers and my parents didn’t come together as a family, we seemed to splinter off to our own separate rooms rather than gain strength from each other. I see now this is how I cope with most things. I don’t trust other people will give me what I need or that I will be able to deliver what they need. 


All this to say I have been affection starved. I want to snuggle, cuddle, hand hold, hug, kiss cheeks, none of you are safe. I’m like my dog Pippa who loves everyone and wants nothing more than love back. 


I’m looking for this affection through the reparenting and visualisations of my inner child, rewriting the narratives in my mind. To help work through this I have been creating work depicting myself in playful activities with the same doll, called Dorothy, I played with as a child. My mum made her (my mum was a frustrated artist, being a wife and stay at home mum, she channelled her creativity into making through sewing and baking). As I’m writing this I am feeling connected to my mum quite strongly through this doll. The woman she was as a 24 year old making that doll, probably grateful to have a daughter to make these things for. She also used to knit characters from children's television, including Postman Pat and Jess the cat (I recall many of these being made for numerous family friends children) she also knitted me a pink version of Jess. 


Before I get too carried away down this memory rabbit hole I want to bring it back to the reason I started writing this post. This collaged drawing of me and Dorothy. Everything I make is part of the puzzle that makes up me and my inner world and since my daughter is grown her status as my muse has evolved to encompass this new phase of motherhood. The part where I have more time for introspection and healing. 


When I set out to write this post I was thinking I’d write about collage and connected to layered meanings; covering of mistakes; skewing of perspectives; composition; the 3D collages I want to make combining textiles, beading and ceramics. I also wanted to remind myself that I have all I need and this new work encompasses that in the form of my skill set and storytelling. 


Even though these words were not what I intended to write I’m hoping what I have written here demonstrates the narratives and vulnerabilities that go into work like this. Not just my work but work by any artist creating art from these deep places. 



For those interested my mum split with my dad and went to art college at the age of 46 when my youngest brother was 3. She has been my role model and I’m hoping to be hers through my work towards self healing. 

 

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3 Comments


Guest
Mar 16

❤️

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Guest
Mar 15

You are really, very good at this.

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Guest
Mar 15

Powerful words and images Jill, I can relate a lot.

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