My work rethinks our ideas of dolls and reconsiders the roles they play and the properties assigned to them which can illuminate a culture’s beliefs and value. Dolls can stretch our definition between play and ritual and cause the inanimate to become animate and stimulate the imaginary and spiritual world. A doll is almost not a big enough word for the power they potentially hold. Dolls have great symbolic meaning and are intertwined with spirituality, ritual, communal and person identities. My work explores the idea where dolls as more than a toy and playing is more than the domain of a child. Play allows us to cope with past and future situations, to step out the ordinary into an extra-ordinary existence, where imagination is the ultimate liberation, by creating changes in play it can be possible to create changes which become tangible in the real world.
If we accept these ideas then dolls can be viewed as vessels which transmit meaning, they are pieces of material culture and my practise uses art as a visual form of enquiry, asking questions which relate to human behaviour, social, cultural or political issues, which can be personal or connected to my place in the world and relationships and events around me.
The dolls are a sculptural re-working of scavenging, borne out of late night solitude and sewing as a remedy. Hidden away from public view a series of little freaks were created and have become an obsessive autobiographical project. Each doll is created using materials around the home or gathered in nature, found or stolen.
They hold intimate memories and her work has grown to become a kind of creative storehouse of objects that refer to personal memories or evoke events. Often gifts or commissions, Carmen sews with love and intention. "Each piece takes on its own personality and I hold the person I am making for in my mind, I guess they are a sort of blessing and the making process is as important to me as the finished product."
Her dolls often reference the home; that intimate, private domestic space. The use of domestic materials, objects and traditional textile practices explore the idea of the 'feminine', whilst the creative process and assemblage have become a vehicle for artistic therapy and expression, helping to speak words hard to say, recover hope and smile.
So now a tension and contradiction emerges from the public display of such private concerns ...