Needle felted girl. She didn’t start out as a girl, starting out as a bead she just emerged.


Dolls/girls/figures have been a feature in my work for a very long time. Strangely it is never really a conscious decision, it always appears to just happen. I can however remember when the theme emerged for me. When I lived in Belfast I was a member of the Northern Ireland Group for Art Therapy (NIGAT) they held 3/4 meetings throughout the year for art making and discussion and an excellent summer school, this is one thing I really miss about not living in N. Iron, it was a really interesting organisation to be part of. I’ve always had an interest in the therapeutic use of art, and at that time I worked with children and young people with learning disabilities and used art as a therapeutic and communication tool frequently. The NIGAT ‘making days’ were just that, a chance to make art for a whole day, in a safe space and then to come together to discuss, or just listen to others. A wide range of random materials were provided and it was about seeing what spoke to you at that time, on that day.
One Saturday I came upon 5 wooden pegs and the obsession began (maybe they found me?). I made 5 dolls that day, winding materials and wire and other bits and pieces around them. They remained faceless but each was very individual. I was in my third year at Art College and was interested in recording moments in time, capturing the moments, how you felt, the influences on you at that particular moment in time and thinking about how they impacted on you, how each experience helped arm, or protect you in some way for the next moment to come. On reflection I was fascinated by growing up and the experiences that shaped what you did and how you felt. I continued the making as part of my degree work and ended up with approx. 500 peg dolls, placed around my space to protect and guide me.
I have since made a few different types of figure, always female, although in my mind they never appear as overly sexualised images.
On posting this image ‘girl’ to the VoiceThread a fellow artist teacher has referred to Joseph Beuys work and suggested a similar link to the reasoning behind the felt. Joseph Beuys work has been of interest to me over the years, especially while at college. This comment encouraged me to reflect on the link that Beuys made with felt and it being a source of spiritual warmth, there is also the suggestion that it in someway links to the body as felt is made of compressed hair.
This would suggest a possible change in the reasons behind the figures, initially made from wood, solid, pre determined shape of ‘pegs’ to a softer and more malleable medium. Both still natural.
This is an area I intend to investigate further.


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