From her secret base on the South Coast of England, Juliette Dodd (talented artist and sculptor) channels her 10 year old self to masterfully create amazing photo stories. They are a mischievous, almost beguiling mix of irreverence and innocent nostalgia. You're never sure when one of the fashion doll characters who star in every frame might open a dirty raincoat to reveal - what? A smooth plastic front bottom? One of Juliette's (many) (and very generous) friends sent her a bag of miniature Phicen doll penises for props, in case she needed them, but she feels that her characters (names such as Nev, Burt, Madame Sylvain) are more Carry On than porn. However, her stories come with a short authors warning:
"this photo story contains adult themed material – so anyone who had a sheltered upbringing or has a delicate disposition is advised to stop now and come back when I have exhausted this storyline (which may be a while yet as it’s too much fun)."
Another friend, Manuela (from Germany) sent her this wonderful 1960s Petra doll. She came with an array of different coloured wigs. Juliette notes that Petra dolls were a continental copy of the famous American Barbie who was, in turn originally a copy of the German doll Bild Lilli.
A favourite story of mine is Hairdressers about a young aspiring hairdresser and his rapid rise to fame - in what I imagine to be a small village near Blackpool, but could equally have been set in London's South Molton Street.
I love Juliette's use of the three profiles across this image, topped by the fabulous plastic cameo.
"The profile wall plaque is one of a pair of plastic '60s faux cameo pictures I found in a charity shop for a pound. I liked the hairstyles and they actually inspired 'The Hairdressers' story, as one is featured in the classic early Barbie swirl ponytail hairstyle. I wanted to give Ken a back story before he opened his swish trendy '70s unisex salon and the older Teasie Weasie character Alphonso was a repainted modern Action Man, desperately trying to comb over his bald spot."
In case you're wondering about the Teasie reference, here is fabulous video featuring Raymond Bessone AKA Mr Teasie-Weasie - famous hairdresser of the 1960s. He had a chain of salons in Mayfair and this film is set in Blackpool. Feeling rather smug - my imagination about the possible setting of Juliette's salon was spot on.
Barbie and her swirl appears magically in this graphic scene from Talent Show - Variety
I love the composition of this image as it zig zags down from the magic wand, past the bold bull's eye to the sanguine, sweet heart lipped Barbie. It also serves me with a wand waved dash of nostalgia as I had a magic set as a kid. Researching this now, I see it must have been the "Magic" set of 'props for tricks' by Thomas Salter. It's the same one that included the bulls eye box!
In the same story, this image is dazzling.
It's only fair that the tables are turned and Action Man gets a spin as the object of the trick in this scene. To give him his due he seems equally sanguine about it.
"I loved the idea of a talent contest, similar to the popular '70s Opportunity Knock shows; a perfect platform to introduce a range of characters and costumes doing silly things. The knife throwing / sword swallowing 1976 ballerina Barbie still makes me chuckle and was inspired by finding a tiny set of '70s sword cocktail sticks. Magician Barry uses an old box I had from a childhood magic set and through the power of imagination and trick photography his tricks are (almost) believable."
Apparently, knife throwing - as a circus skill - is grouped under the category of impalement arts. Apropos of nothing except it's a fascinating fact.
Juliette has an irreverent energy and I'm not surprised at all that she was recently commissioned by Julian Stanislaw Kalinowski, (punk fashion designer and surreal-doll artist) to sculpt a 1:6 scale portrait of him and some of his friends.
I really enjoyed meeting Juliette by phone this weekend and learning more about her. There really is some fascinating and cutting edge work going on around fashion dolls. I love it and hope you've enjoyed this introduction to Juliette and her 'SindySnap' project.
You can explore more of Juliette's photo stories here:
I'm very interested to hear about any fashion doll related creative work that's going on - please share links about your discoveries in the comments below, or contact me if you'd like to be featured.