Having been the delighted owner of one of Liz Pearce’s Heartfelt dolls for some years now, I am keen to share this delightful contemporary fibre artist’s work with ARTbop readers.
Liz is quick to acknowledge the people who inspired her to begin, and then continue, her exquisite, expressive doll-making. It all began with the book Mother Plays with Dolls, by elinor peace-bailey. “It gave me permission, to know I had found my medium. I simply knew that this was my voice, the way that I was going to interpret the world, “, Liz explains.
At about the same time Liz came upon another doll maker, Pamela Hastings, about doll making as a healing and transformative process. “Her books and website are really about converting life experiences into something tangible so that you can actually look back and see them”.
Liz is no occasional hobbyist. There is always a doll ‘on the go’, and the room full of groups of dolls all labelled individually and thematically detailed forms an extensive, coherent body of work. Each doll is different – and it’s a rare doll that is not part of or linked to a thematic series. Recycling materials, and not just fabric, is in strong evidence.
At times an idea is explored and the dolls are named after the idea has reached its conclusion; at other times the dolls are made to suit an idea, words overheard, lines of a poem that strike personal notes with Liz, giving herself permission to make the dolls without analysing or thinking too much and then letting the dolls speak to her. At times the dolls are detailed in their human-identifiable details, others merely hint at human limbs and characteristics. Only two series to-date have detailed facial features. Sometimes Liz designs the total doll stance and physical characteristics, at times she is moved to a template, as with the Bullying and Dammit series.
Liz’s dolls are entirely personally relevant. Showing her dolls, and generously offering them for purchase, brings them into the public eye and gives people a chance to remember. “People immediately relate to the materials used, and many a cherished conversation starts from there.”
Among the many fascinating themes, are the Binding dolls, each with a different Binding and exploring varied notions of ‘binding’, and the Dammit Dolls – designed to be picked up and used to hit something with, giving you a natural, healthy form of venting. “Sometimes”, says Liz, “it’s just enough to pick one up”. Each one has a different ‘personality’, suiting the various reasons a person might be in a “Dammit” frame of mind.
Maureen Murdoch’s groundbreaking book, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, published by Shambhala Publications in 1990, was written as a response to Joseph Campbell’s book on the hero’s journey, and Liz’s Heroines’ Journey series in response to this work is very intimate and tender. It has an added element – a crone-like lace-clad doll standing on a narrow boat, shrouded in black, clutching her coin. As Liz explained : “At the end of any experience in life, we have to pay the ferryman to get to the other side, and decide : what is next”.
Then there are the Soul Sisters, with facial features, painted toe nails and musical instruments; the dolls made in response to bits and pieces given into Liz’s thoughtful care for building into a doll such as bits of driftwood from significant encounters; the Lamentation Doll commemorating the felling of a Redwood. The Salutation to the Sun series, each of the 10 dolls with its yoga position and yoga mat, a response to having difficulty getting up in the morning. And perhaps my personal favorite, the dolls that bear witness to the experience of depression, such as the one called Casting a Shadow over All.
A current themes include Stitch Yourself a Boyfriend, again grew out of a book, “Knit Yourself a Boyfriend” – exploring the male form, complete with male-defining details, and the 50 Shades of Grey series, each in black, white and grey material with a yellow daffodil, $10 from each sale going to the Aratika Trust, a Rotorua Cancer Support Group.
For further information about the artists mentioned above, please see
Miriam Ruberl. Miriam Ruberl is a Rotorua based established artist with an arts and arts teaching practice. Miriam is the Rotorua Correspondent for ARTbop and attends and reports on the spectrum of creative events happening in and around Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
If you have information about an event or a creative activity in Rotorua or the Rotorua District you would like to share with Miriam you can email firstname.lastname@example.org