When, oh when, will I learn?

by Sayraphim on September 9, 2008

To not carry interesting looking things around with me?

Today I met up with the talented and charming artist Jon Beinart, he was handing in his Totem doll, Bubbapilla. It’s an obsecenly cute yet disturbing piece created from a number of identical baby dolls.

(image taken from Jon’s site,

After a quick and interesting talk with him about being an artist, curator and publisher, I headed off to my next meeting, over lunch, carrying his creation in my arms, sans bag. My lunchdate was late, so I stood outside the cafe waiting, while people around me talked about the doll to each other.

When my companion arrived, we went inside, I placed the doll on the chair next to me
and we had lunch. While putting on my coat to leave, a lady from the next table leaned over to me and said “Can I ask you a personal question?”
“Sure” I replied.
“What is that?” she asked, pointing to the doll.
I explained that it was an art doll by Jon Beinart for an exhibition I was organising. I jsut happened to have a fringe guide with me, so I gave it to her, opened at the Totem details.

Then, walking through Lincraft purchasing more yarn, there was an old lady muttering to her companion about ‘disgusting displays’, something that I haven’t elicited from old ladies since I was a rebellious teen.

Sitting waiting for the tram with Bubbapilla cradled in one arm (it was the easiest way to carry him) a man came over and tried to convince me that I am missing a baby, which is why I was holding the doll like that. I failed to see the humour in what he obviously thought was very witty. And then on the tram a man was talking to me about making more and selling them, because people would buy them. I tried to set him straight about who made it, IE, not me, but he didn’t listen so I resigned myself to being ranted at by a madman and vowed not to ever carry interesting things in public again.

It reminds me of many years ago, I was working on a show called All of Which Are American Dreams, during rehersal I was in the process of sewing a 4 foot high gollywog doll puppet.
Rehersals were out at TheatreWorks in St Kilda and I was living in Preston at the time, working in the CBD and didn’t have a car. So it meant that every morning I took the gollywog on the train to work, he sat next to my desk all day, I took him by tram to St Kilda at night and the trained it back home with him after rehearsal so I could work on him further before I went to bed. Then I’d get up in the morning and do it all again. I’d carry him on my hip like a child, again, it’s the easiest way to carry a 4 foot high doll.

People were so funny when they caught sight of him. You would watch the interplay of emotions on their faces. He was dreadfully un-PC, but older people had a soft spot for him, remembering gollywogs they had as a child.

But people would come up and talk to me about their childhood experiences and their favourite dolls, all sorts of weird history that they would normally keep to themselves.

I always find it this odd experience, that having something from childhood (a big doll such as the gollywog or a multi-doll such as Bubbapilla) somehow circumnavigates the usual social order, and strangers will talk and share stories that they’d normally never tell in public. It’s always strange to be on the receiving end of that. It happens with heavily pregnant women too, that people will come up to them and ask them baby questions when normally they’d avoid even eye contact.

It’s such a strange world we live in

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