Thursday, 25 November 2010


I'm absolutely in love with Walter Potter's anthropomorphic taxidermy pieces featuring animals going about everyday human activities. They're an example of Victorian whimsy, very fanciful - the funeral scenario above was inspired by the nursery rhyme 'Who Killed Cock-Robin?' They're light-hearted and humorous and very enchanting.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Along the lines of this dollshouse containing something unexpected, I had some other ideas about what could be done with it. Because it is small enough, it has the potential for anything to happen to it - maybe becoming a model used to illustrate the happenings of a home in the 'big' world.
So for instance, if you looked out of the window, what might there be?

Friday, 19 November 2010

a couple more - Jeff and Paul.

It's been painted (well, almost) and put together, so here is an update of how the dolls house is coming along. The inside is very bare with white walls, because it's easier to keep them like that until I know for sure what it is i'm doing.

But I have been experimenting and in response to the frog house, my birds have been acting like people. Below is a tea party held inside the house, so I suppose it's called a bird house now. They really seem to be deep in conversation, and you can pick out different personalities based on each bird's expression.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Thomas Doyle creates miniature worlds in order to depict remnants of the past. Like a film still, they tell part of a story, in the same hazy way we might recall a memory. The image above is part of the Distillation series, which is focused on the home (which is probably why I love his work so much). The series aims to 'boil life down to the moments that define who we are', and so consequently deals a lot with childhood, during which, the home is crucial and acts as a stage for the majority of memories.

The tiny, intimate scale allows us to be drawn into the moment and invites us to become a part of it, we're like the all-seeing eye. The works are often sealed under glass which keeps the viewer at a distance and the world inside contained. As well as adding an element of magic and preciousness, the glass also helps to stop time, so we're witnessing a snapshot image of a moment.
I've been thinking a lot about how a diorama or dollshouse contains within itself a whole seperate world, that we are able to watch over or manipulate. Maybe that place though is somewhere we don't enjoy or expect; Doyle's houses are often in jeopardy and the people frequently in danger -facing their problems or fears.

For the charity event 'Purple Wednesday' we were given a piece of cardboard and asked to do anything with it. I noticed there was a circle imprint on mine, which was perfect for homing a mini painting of my dollshouse.


Alongside the Mary Greg dioramas is an automaton made by Andy Hazell. It's a structure made up of small rooms and inside each is a scene showing a figure going about it's daily routine. It wasn't working when I was there but I think the model is designed to turn as the characters brush their teeth and flip their bacon. The small scale scenes made from tinplate link in really well with the domestic settings played out in the Mary Greg box rooms and dollshouse.

I then came across Andy Hazell's 'Cities' - miniature versions of entire cities, below is Rio de Janeiro and Athens. They're like small stages that have turned a real life place into a completely new one, on an island of its own. They have plenty of small details, but aren't neat and haven't been intricately made, which I like - it makes them really playful.

Ana Serrano makes these amazing little cartoon-like buildings that are inspired by her Mexican American culture. I love the colours and her use of card and collage, she also puts images over the windows so you can see whats going on inside.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A few days ago I went to Manchester Art Gallery to look at the Collecting Section of the Gallery of Craft and Design, in which there are some of Mary Greg's items. Featured is one of her dollshouses and some small box room scenes.

One of my favourite items was the frog house, which is sort of like a small cabinet with two rooms imitating a gentleman's club. The stuffed frogs are playing cards and smoking cigars - it's an example of anthropomorphism, where the frogs have taken on human characteristics. I really like things like this, they're very whimsical, although I have a friend who is terrified of animals acting like humans. This could be a good opportunity to try this out with my birds.

There was one dollshouse on show and it fascinated me. It's beautifully quaint and you can just imagine somebody lovingly building and decorating it; making all the furniture and painting the walls etc. I'm fascinated by the idea of a 'home' and the fact that a dollshouse gives us peek into one. This sums it up really well:

A house, more than a diary, is the intimate glimpse.
A house is a life interrupted.
Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces, 1997

Also this, on the Manchester City Galleries website:
Home is at the very centre of our lives, it is the space we make our own.
Our houses speak volumes about who we are, our families and history, hopes and aspirations.
It is where we keep our most precious belongings, for both private and public display.
The idea of home can mean many things: shelter and safety or fear and imprisonment.
The dollshouse has been popular for centuries: played with by adults and children alike, it conjures up a whole private world in miniature.

Below is another one of Mary's houses, this time encased in a glass fronted box, inside a world of its own. This one prevents you from examining the inside, so we can only imagine.

I've noticed that Mary liked the world in minature, or at least these are the aspects that appeal most to me. I'm going to experiment with this, using my own dollshouse and some of the ideas here - What could there be inside it? Or whether you're actually able to see inside or not? Also capturing that feeling of opening one up.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

My birds have arrived! They're finally here after weeks of waiting, and they're very beautiful. Opening this box up was considerably exciting, it's reminiscent of the ones stacked in the attic at the Platt Hall gallery. Very intriguing with its 'White Birds for Xmas' label, and the delicate contents all wrapped up in tissue paper.
I think Mary Greg would have enjoyed this collection; each bird has his own character with a slightly differing expression to the next. There's even a half blind one - he has a white eye.