Remember The Pea Family toys marching in a line on both sides of the ramp wearing Pero’s outfits, during her AW ’15 show? Well, in all probability they will be same league as Blythe dolls, Luk Thep dolls, Madame Alexander dolls, Lee Middleton dolls, Robert Tonner dolls, Kitty Collier dolls, Betsy McCall dolls, and Mary Englebreit dolls….. to name a few collectible fashion dolls, internationally, in the near future.
These sought after adult toys are by an anonymous female artist done in limited edition. Her latest shaped in Jamun wood is called ‘FALL & RISE’. It’s body type, when pushed from underneath, collapses down and bounces back when released to stand upright. This movement symbolizes the resilience of an Indian girlchild, who’s rights and values the artist champions.
Born in 1980, Ferozpur, India, she was brought up as a military brat. Later, settling down, the young lady pursued Masters degree in Fine Arts from College of Arts, New Delhi. And now, is busy projecting an underlying satire on societal norms, through contemporary art media.
As told, the oversized head originated from her childhood insecurity of being abnormally underweight, while elder sister was of rude health – combining sister’s head and artist’s frail body. Yet, this destabilizing head of Princess Pea wasn’t arrived at consciously but was an act of creative rebelliousness after several failed artistic encounters.
Princess Pea – the artist empathizes with the princess in the story who is abnormally sensitive to suffering; as a feminist is affected by classic The Ugly Duckling syndrome looming on us in our everyday existence. So through the artworks is seen propagating acceptance of female beauty and self-worth in all its distorted glory, well against the diktats of the fashion and beauty industry.
Each piece is a work of art, conceptualized and made with great attention to detail by award winning craftsmen of a small village – Etikoppaka, in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India. This place is known for its lacqured wooden toys, traditionally since 300 BC. Herein 200 artisan families are engaged in toymaking, but post independence the craft is nearing extinction. Armed with simple tools and an exceedingly adroit technique passed down the generations with the artist’s design intervention, have compelled both to go on an over-drive.
Initially it was the revival of woodturning in India, that piqued my interest in her work, realizing only later its worth as a prized possession. And, being appreciative of it I admire the set of eight wooden dolls – figural replicas of Princess Peas rendered with unique features of iconic personalities. Has purposely chosen empowered fictional, mythical and real life female characters like Draupadi, Marjane Satrapi, The Red Queen, Mary Kom, Yoko Ono, Anya, Barbara Thornson, and Ottoline showcased in individual glass vitrines, to further define their distinctiveness.
The petite doe-eyed creative has also done an interesting series of silk paintings where pop cohabits mughal miniature in two-dimensional, highly symmetrical forms with Princess Pea as the lead protagonist; establishing the evolving artist in a certain genre. But my favourites are her Pea portraits-of European royalty in vintage fashion and the ones wearing Indian designer Pero’s creations. In both series, the damsel has donned the Princess Pea head as their alter-ego persona, in a new and weird way.
Clearly, all this and more is becoming the topic of conversation in the right circles, despite of her operating from behind an anonymous veil!