Whimsical art dolls and mixed media sculptures
I am originally Russian, living in the UK now for almost half of my life. I am based in the beautiful Warwickshire, mothering two daughters (with different degrees of involvement, as one of them is an adult now), two small dogs, a chinchilla and a zebra-finch, as well as over a hundred plants.
To start with, I don’t have any formal art training. In different periods of my life I dedicated myself to different things. Coming from a family of biomedical scientists, this is where I applied myself first. I spent over a decade in academic research, in the field of molecular biology. I am forever fascinated with biology and with the natural world. The intricacy of how the living organisms are built and the beauty of the natural forms are a constant source of interest and inspiration. The life cycles and the food chains are the prototypes of the dilemmas that we, humans, face in life, and it’s something that I think about a lot.
After biomedical research, I had a period of working in an entirely human world, as a manager in a software engineering company. That lead me to study business and management, and then lured back into research, this time in social sciences. It has opened my eyes to the incredible knowledge that cannot be studied by using the scientific method - the subjective and fickle world of perception, thoughts and emotions and the resulting human behaviour. And after six years on that path, the time was right to dedicate myself fully to art.
I think the desire to make dolls has been sitting in the back of my mind ever since my grandparents’ neighbour in Russia, Tatiana Lipatova, corrupted me. She was one of the first in the USSR to use imported polymer clay to sculpt dolls’ heads and hands, and she also made amazing costumes. She would invite me, a 10 year old, for tea, show her latest creation and read a magical story that she wrote about the character that she has made. That was amazing, and I always wanted to be able to do that too…
A lot of my inspiration comes from the magical stories, animated films, and also from my grandmother’s stash of women’s craft magazines, dating to before communist revolution in Russia. There is something in the images from that era that appeals to me: the calm, the thoughtfulness…
Making creatures allows me to preserve and express memories and impressions from reading, watching, visiting and seeing, and the dilemmas that we face. Sometimes a vision buzzes around in my head for weeks, months, or even years. It’s very satisfying for me to create something which becomes an embodiment of that vision. On the other hand, sometimes I start with a vision, but the process of making a creature takes an unexpected direction, and something totally different from the original idea ends up being made.