Scratch beneath the thin veneer of middle class family respectability and there is always a secret. Children are often the victims and the barometers of family dysfunction. Some secrets are so dark that they are never revealed, but the hidden damage remains and is often repeated through generations.
Bearing witness to the blood bath of inhumanity in the daily media induces a state of immunity to the pain of others. Stories of childhood trauma are especially confronting and difficult to tell. The challenge is to find ways other than shocking reality bytes to produce a sympathetic reaction.
In this work, dolls are employed as representations of childhood, unsullied and innocent. We are initially drawn into the works by the bright color, familiar backdrops and the disturbing innocence of the dolls. That they are trapped, inanimate and exposed is the sucker punch.
The works are placed squarely in scenes from the middle class to reinforce the universality of the themes across all socioeconomic groups. A range of secrets is disclosed through visual constructs utilizing projections of backdrops against which the dolls are photographed. The titles such as “The Service Lane” and ”The Fat Controller” are glib and purposefully tongue-in-cheek to soften the impact for the feeling viewer.
Each artwork arouses complicated ambivalence between the role of the doll as a loved transitional object of childhood, and the purpose of the artwork, to unseat the viewer from a comfortable position. Posing questions about taboo issues from the safety of the transitional object allows the viewer an out with the excuse “its just a doll”. This softer sell, may perhaps, in the long run, be more thought-provoking, than an approach with the blunt force trauma of reality.
Ultimately there is a desperate need for advocacy, and each of these dioramas makes a silent plea for action.
The Service Lane (child prostitution)
Peek-a-boo (child pornography)
Cover Girl (cultural repression)
Just Bluffing (teenage suicide)
Wheeler Dealer (bullying &anti social behaviour)
A Walk In The Park (homosexuality –pick ups in public toilets)
Home Sweet Home (homelessness)
High As A Kite (drug addiction)
Off The Rails (children out of control, tram/train surfing)
Dress-ups (gender dysphoria)
The Cutting Edge (self harm)
Great Expectations (teenage pregnancy)
The Fat Controller (eating disorders)