Paper Dolls

In 2004, Ratcliff explored the world of paper dolls in a series of mixed media works. Many a child honed their fine motor skills cutting out these figures and fancy clothes. Fantasies were activated by dreaming about them: Who were they? Where did they live? Where were they going?

“By choosing paper doll fashions from the 1940s,” the artist says, “I explored my own childhood. I was very lucky. My mother made all my clothes. This taught me how to combine pattern, fabric, lace, buttons to construct a dress that was actually a 3-dimensional object – a wearable sculpture.”

Her fascination with fashion comes out in this work. Combining paper dolls with paper, fabric, paint, graphite, colored pencil and image transfer of her own photographs, she constructed compositions that were often surreal. The work speaks of beauty, women’s power and how we borrow from animals – fur, feathers, skin – to enhance our own allure.