The V&A Museum of Childhood aims to encourage everyone to explore the themes of childhood past and present and develop an appreciation of creative design through its inspirational collections and programs. The oldest antique doll in the Museum’s collections comes from ancient Egypt and is over three thousand years old: it dates back to about 1300 BC. The Museum has dolls which speak, walk, blow kisses or play musical instruments. The largest doll on display is 73cm high. The Museum’s antique dolls are made from many different materials – rubber, prunes and mutton bones as well as the more usual cloth, wood, ceramic, plastic and wax.
Portrait and still life photographer Craig Deane has created more than a dozen large-scale images of dolls from the Museum of Childhood’s extensive antique doll collection which are on display until 27 March 2011. Doll Face is a series of close-cropped, large-format portraits which confronts the audience with the essence of each doll. Returning the viewer’s gaze, their huge scale shows a great amount of detail which allows time to really study their fascinating faces.
Deane is interested in both the representation of the human form and the objects people surround themselves with. Mankind’s desire to make images and objects in their own likeness stretches back to the dawn of civilization and while dolls have traditionally been toys for children, they are also coveted by adults for their beauty, nostalgic value, and historical and financial importance. Deane is particularly interested in exploring the evolving representations we have made of ourselves – and given to our children to play with – as illustrated by the broad spectrum of antique dolls held in the 8000-strong collection at the Museum.
The dolls photographed include a pedlar doll with a leather face from 1830. Deane has previously shown at Rencontres Internationale de la Photographie in Arles, France and has had an Artist’s Residency in Alexandria, Egypt. Entry to the exhibition and the Museum is free. For more information visit web site: Museum of Childhood.