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This Maltese Art Exhibition Puts Dolls In The Spotlight, Exploring Their Unique Personification In Society

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Dolls hold a unique position within our society and culture and this new contemporary art exhibition at Spazju Kreattiv is exploring the ‘life’ that Humans breathe into their dolls – whether it is for comfort or divine intercession.

SURA brings to life the emotion and symbolism behind dolls used by Humans for all sorts of purposes. Offering an array of handcrafted figures, the exhibition curated and designed by Elyse Tonna presents the works of Glen Calleja and Lori Sauer – who have both collaborated on the project for the past three years.

The exhibition also includes a sound installation by sculptor Matyou Galea and an exhibition catalogue with a number of stories, reflections and poems by writer Clare Azzopardi.

“Dolls are unlike other objects,” says Tonna. “They’re charged with special powers”.

“They offer comfort and solace, they’re proxies for people we love, people we hate and for ourselves. We speak to them and sometimes…they reply.”

Through the collaboration between Calleja and Sauer, the different perspectives of a doll’s role in Human culture are explored with the focus on understanding the Human need to create objects in our own likeness or personify belonging or ostracisation.

Calleja’s style of this medium favours working with rags, gauze and string to create mostly limbless dolls to give the impression of otherworldliness or supernatural element to the dolls. Some have horns or small heads; others have rusty nails hanging from their bellies to perhaps represent entrails.

Meanwhile, Sauer’s dolls stand straight and strong – offering elegant and composed figures that are faceless and sexless.

Despite this, her designs offer a different side of dolls – exploring where dolls become vessels in which we live our fantasies, dressing them up and looking our best.

Her dolls offer up the idea of Human-like personalities emerging through the life that we breathe into the narratives our dolls are given.

SURA is open until 23rd May 2021 at Spazju Kreattiv, you may visit from Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 6.30pm.

All photos within this article were taken by Giola Cassar.

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