Most people have a collection of sorts; some are passionate about historical maps, others might prefer miniature cars, antique corkscrews, or perhaps vintage textiles. I was blissfully lucky to photograph my mother's doll collection - a collection like no other. As far back as I can remember, there have been dolls in my mother's world.
From her many travels and year-long stays overseas, she has amassed an impressive collection; each doll's origin reaching far and wide. One dates back to the 16th century; a charming couple was found in the Himalayan foothills; a Chinese set was purchased in HongKong. Matryoshka and Russian peasant dolls add to the mix, as does an antique trio from Provence with their sombre papier-mâché faces. Others come from the heart of Americana, while the cage dolls reach back to Spanish Colonialism. There are the German wooden stick dolls, and the darling rag doll made by my father's mother made during his childhood years living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
I remember Fifi (she gets her own caption below). Fifi lived in my home during my parents' many years in the Himalayas. When they would come to visit, Fifi proudly awaited her return, sitting on an old children's chair, her black straw hat weathering the test of time with its bold ribboned flowers; the elastics of her cuffs softening.
Before their move to Europe, my parents stayed with me for a while - the dolls amassed over time started finding little corners of their living space. I came up with the idea of making a book for my mother to take back with her - I would stage the dolls against the various colorful backgrounds in my home, and let whimsical styling take over. Porcelain skins, rosy cheeks, sideways glances, cinnabar red lips; I played doll in a way, looking at each one, intrigued by their journey here, each one patiently waiting for me to tend to them.
The book is done. This last photo is on the cover. The dolls have crossed a wide expanse of water and made their way to 's Hertogenbosch. My mom is happy. The dolls are happy. I am happy.
All that is indeed good for the soul.
Enjoy as always, Adeline