A couple more dolls from the museum. This week – scary ones.
This was a nightmare doll – genuinely one of the most frightening baby dolls I think I’ve ever seen. The sketch barely captures it. Something about the huge billowing gown made it look like it was floating demonically, and it’s tiny little head seemed all out of proportion. The idea of putting this in a baby’s cradle sends shivers down my spine.
This one is perhaps not scary as such, more halfway between poignant and unsettling: it was an animal bone wrapped in a cloth. This was a doll stripped of all superfluous elements and reduced to the most basic elements of symbolic association. Somewhere a child without a ‘proper’ doll had turned this into their toy. It seemed a striking example of childhood’s ability to look beyond surface and the superficial trappings of appearance and find a symbolic resonance in the most mundane of objects – using whatever might be to hand. The doll itself seemed at once immensely enigmatic, as well as full of pathos and a with hint of the macabre – for me it was perhaps the most affecting doll of them all.