Dickerson Gallery: Vintage Dolls

Samantha Everton is an established photographer, both in documentary and as a photographic artist exposing Vintage Dolls at the Dickerson Gallery in Collingwood.
Dickerson Gallery: Vintage Dolls
Vintage Dolls by Samantha Everton at Dickerson Gallery, Collingwood Samantha Everton is an established photographer, both in documentary and as a photographic artist. She graduated from RMIT in 2003 and has also won awards for her work including being a finalist in the MORAN Contemporary Art Prize for 2009. Samantha’s latest exhibition is called Vintage Dolls and was featured at the Dickerson Gallery in Collingwood. I like Photography; I studied it and always enjoy seeing this medium displayed alongside traditional fine art. This being said, there was something uncomfortable about the latest exhibition by Samantha Everton, Vintage Dolls. I found the visual representations to be very beautiful, with the use of colour and texture superb, but there was something dark and threatening about these images at the same time. I walked around the 13 photos a couple of times, trying to understand what was disturbing me so. There was nothing too obvious, but I found myself looking closely at the details of each work, looking for some threat or hidden horror. There is a fairytale feeling to the work, like snatches from a children’s book, or as you might imagine a story in your own mind as you have it read to you before sleep as a child. The closer I look at the work, the more I saw the details such as peeling wallpaper, patched walls and rooms empty except for the posed girls. There is one photo only where a child shows a smile, and this is in the Bewitching hour, and to me would only be because it looks as if she is escaping from the empty rooms. There is a trapped feeling for me looking at these posed girls, no glimpses of the outside or any real joy here. I am a voyeur into their world, but I feel they would not exist if I look away. When you think of children playing there is energy, activity, joy and interaction, and this is missing for me in this series, although this of course could be the whole point. There was even more to see in the work as I looked, a message about cultural identity, with one girl facing a mirror in a traditional western party dress, to see herself in a Chinese silk dress Party Dress. The doll used through some of the works is also Asian, and in Adagio the girl shown is wearing a long Asian coat, although you cannot see her face. I am not going to make any suggestions about what messages or comments Samantha may be passing on through her work, I only know it spoke to me in a certain way. This is, of course, coloured by my own experiences and beliefs, and it will not stop me from attending more exhibitions of Samantha’s in the future. In fact the work is beautiful to look at, very seductive in use of colour and texture, making me want to possess, to covet. The fact that is also made me feel uncomfortable might mean that I would keep the work hidden in my home, like a secret, a fairytale of my own. Event: Vintage Dolls by Samantha Everton Venue: Dickerson Gallery, Collingwood

Zoe Wolfendale

Monday 23 March, 2009

About the author

Zoë Wolfendale is a reviewer for ArtsHub.