Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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Rebecca Green
Site Owner
Posts: 2083

Some good news for everyone! Maidstone Museum, one of Kent’s major museums, which also has 9 dolls’ houses in its collections, is opening a collaborative exhibition of dolls’ houses and related work by 12 contemporary artists from London and Kent, on Saturday 15th September.

 

Doll’s houses on show include a magnificent six room estate-made mansion of 1869, owned by the Whatman papermaking family of Maidstone and full of typical Walterhausen furniture, European and British made accessories, also a Silber and Fleming box back of around 1880 decorated in the fashionable ‘Aesthetic’ style. Other gems include a large, detailed room set of a teenager’s bed sit of the early 1960s and a home-made wartime mock Tudor house. Artists showing include an illustrator with a unique and quirky take on the doll’s house world, a 12th scale doll’s house presented in a style of surreal decay, atmospheric photographs of a vintage doll’s house interior and small houses made entirely of beach combed rubbish, together with several thought-provoking doll’s house related installations.

 

This is an exhibition that will appeal to doll’s house enthusiasts and anyone who likes to have their imagination challenegd on the concept and meaning of a small or miniature house.

 

There is an opportunity to ‘meet the artists’ on Saturday 15th September from 11am to 1pm, as well as workshops and events, including a miniaturist’s fair on Saturday 3rd November. Re-imagining the Doll’s House runs until 10th November 2018.

 

For full details go to

www.maidstonemuseum.org

This exhibition would not have happened without DHP&P. Member Veronica Tonge approached Maidstone Museum at the beginning of this year, to ask if she could research their large 1869 doll’s house, with a view to writing an article for DHP&P ezine. It is a large nursery version made by the estate carpenter of Vinters Estate in Maidstone, owned by the famous 18th century papermaking family Whatman, who invented the ‘wove’ paper used by many famous artists at the time and since. It is crammed with ‘Walterhausen' and other typical 19th-early 20th Century furniture and fittings, plus some home made items. Whilst she was researching, she suggested that as they had several doll’s houses ranging from the early Victorian period to Barbie, they should consider a special exhibition of them as they would be extremely popular with their visitors. By chance their small temporary exhibiton gallery was free this Autumn so they asked her to research their 9 houses for exhibition and also supported the  idea of adding 12 contemporary artists, all of whom have explored doll’s houses or small houses in their work, to the mix! This will be a unique opportunity to combine the historical doll’s house with a creative exploration from artists, and Veronica hopes that it will stimulate a whole new audience for the doll’s house as a significant social history/art object with many interpretations.

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Rebecca :)

September 8, 2018 at 2:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

theinfill.wordpress.com
Member
Posts: 149

Sounds truly amazing!  Many thanks for the info :)

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September 8, 2018 at 9:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rubyred
Member
Posts: 57

The Re- imagining the Dolls House Exhibition runs from October 15 to November 10 every day, except Mondays. Check out the Maidstone Museum for more information. The exhibition is free and it will be wonderful. Very near to Maidstone East Station. I am exhibiting two large paintings and four small gouache and ink works. It will be fun and the museum itself is very interesting to look round as well. Recommend to all. It is a mixed show with models, films, sculpture, dioramas and  creative artwork, all based on dolls houses as inspiration.

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September 8, 2018 at 1:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Brooksey
Administrator
Posts: 1683

It sounds wonderful! 

September 8, 2018 at 6:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2489

It says September 15th, Jenny, not October!

September 9, 2018 at 2:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Brooksey
Administrator
Posts: 1683

I'm now planning a three-day trip to Kent in October to be able to see this!

September 9, 2018 at 10:32 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rubyred
Member
Posts: 57

Rosemary at September 9, 2018 at 2:53 AM

It says September 15th, Jenny, not October!

Yes, sorry, my silly mistake, and to confirm yes it is definitely September 15!!

Thanks for pointing this out.

Cheers.

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September 10, 2018 at 4:45 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2489

I managed a visit to this exhibition last week and can recommend it - the two antique dolls' houses are lovely, there is a modern house filled with miniature rubbish recording past lives there, a sinister black house full of impending doom - and Jenny's fascinating paintings which are well worth the visit.  What more could you wish for? Actually more would have been nice, lots of airy space to fill but it would seem that the Museum does not truly appreciate it's lovely houses and contents which are superior to many to be found in other provincial museums. 

There are some wonderful real size pieces of old oak furniture to view downstairs and an odd eclectic mix of anything from old toffee tins to Roman relics to be found in the glass show cases in a wonderful panelled room with a magnificent fireplace.  This room was originally papered white and held Roman remains collected by one gentleman. Fascinating.

September 26, 2018 at 3:41 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Zoe H
Administrator
Posts: 1704

Rosemary at September 26, 2018 at 3:41 AM

I managed a visit to this exhibition last week and can recommend it - the two antique dolls' houses are lovely, there is a modern house filled with miniature rubbish recording past lives there, a sinister black house full of impending doom - and Jenny's fascinating paintings which are well worth the visit.  What more could you wish for? Actually more would have been nice, lots of airy space to fill but it would seem that the Museum does not truly appreciate it's lovely houses and contents which are superior to many to be found in other provincial museums. 

There are some wonderful real size pieces of old oak furniture to view downstairs and an odd eclectic mix of anything from old toffee tins to Roman relics to be found in the glass show cases in a wonderful panelled room with a magnificent fireplace.  This room was originally papered white and held Roman remains collected by one gentleman. Fascinating.

How nice that you got to visit, Rosemary and thanks for sharing a bit about it. I wish it was a bit nearer to me! 

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Zoe

https://trulymadlytiny.blogspot.co.uk

http://grecondale.com

September 26, 2018 at 3:48 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Veronica
Member
Posts: 21

Rosemary at September 26, 2018 at 3:41 AM

I managed a visit to this exhibition last week and can recommend it - the two antique dolls' houses are lovely, there is a modern house filled with miniature rubbish recording past lives there, a sinister black house full of impending doom - and Jenny's fascinating paintings which are well worth the visit.  What more could you wish for? Actually more would have been nice, lots of airy space to fill but it would seem that the Museum does not truly appreciate it's lovely houses and contents which are superior to many to be found in other provincial museums. 

There are some wonderful real size pieces of old oak furniture to view downstairs and an odd eclectic mix of anything from old toffee tins to Roman relics to be found in the glass show cases in a wonderful panelled room with a magnificent fireplace.  This room was originally papered white and held Roman remains collected by one gentleman. Fascinating.

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic comments Rosemary, not only about the combination of doll's houses and thought-provoking contemporary artworks in Re-imagining the Doll's House, but your pleasure at the eclectic mix of Maidstone Museum's fascinating displays. It still reflects its Victorian foundation collection in a Tudor mansion, donated from the personal collections of Dr. Thomas Charles, an early 19th Century surgeon turned antiquary, who was eccentric enough to create a secret Roman style 'columbaria' behind a staircase wall, where he intended to deposit his mortal remains!

I can assure you Maidstone Museum does very much appreciate its doll's house collection, starting with a delicately hand painted Regency cupboard and ending with a loud plastic Barbie Radio House. This is why they generously agreed to allow me to 'guest curate' this exhibition in the first place in their unexpectedly freed up second temporary exhibition Gallery, and to take the risk of adding doll's house related, sometimes provocative, artists' work to the mix to challenge visitors. The Museum staff I worked with were 100% enthusiastic about the exhibition, as well as doll's houses generally and went the extra mile to produce what is a stunning little exhibition.

Hopefully, this will encourage other museums to look again at their doll's houses as not just past toys, but important social history artefacts, examples of family crafting (now getting forgotten) and of course expressions of ordinary people's creativity and aspirations. Doll's houses intrigue many contemporary artists - go and see Rachel Whiteread's Village at the splendid Bethnal Green Museum - if you haven't already.

It was delightful to meet you in the exhibition and thank you for making the journey. I hope that many others from DHP&P will visit before Re-imagining ends on the 10th November.

Veronica







September 27, 2018 at 10:06 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2489

It was so nice meeting you - and by pure chance!  I did enjoy the exhibition and was envious of the Maidstone Museum owning the two old houses and their contents - here in Cambridge the Folk Museuem (Now titled The Museum of Cambridge) seem to have lost the three houses that they had on display in the past.....no-one seems to know what happened to them despite the curator of past time stating in approximatly 1996 that they had three - a blue roof and a Gosschalk and something else as far as I can remember. So many changes of staff and no houses to be found but Maidstone has it's lovely pair and delicious contents still! Plus the more modern acquisitions.

A lovely and thought provoking exhibition - I hope that many others, miniaturists or not, take time to view life on a smaller scale.

September 27, 2018 at 1:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Veronica
Member
Posts: 21

It was not unusual in the murky past for museums to have mysteriously 'lost' objects from their collections. Nowadays everything is regulated and documented properly, and objects usually find more appropriate homes in other museums if they really are not part of the  'collections policy'. Perhaps the Cambridge houses were passed to another museum? You could try asking that specific question as in the 1990s good practise was getting done in most places. It would be useful to make a database of doll's houses in public collections around the UK, but what a task!

September 27, 2018 at 3:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2489

Unable to post a new forum but there is a Triang no8 - heavily disguised, but structually sound, coming up for auction in Christchurch, Dorset on Oct 10th.

October 4, 2018 at 4:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Brooksey
Administrator
Posts: 1683

Which auctioneers, Rosemary?


Found it - it's with Bulstrodes.

October 5, 2018 at 8:19 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Brooksey
Administrator
Posts: 1683

Looking on thesaleroom.com there's also a G & J Lines No 60 - overpainted, but also looking sound, with Stacey's, Essex, to be sold on Oct 22nd. There's an almost unrecognisable, significantly extended, metal-fronted Triang No 50, plus lots more dolls houses, in the same auction. 


https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/search-results?searchTerm=dolls+house#lot-bcafc4ca-86d0-45b5-9a13-a969010306b7


(Keep scrolling down if you get a lot of shotguns coming up on the page, as I did - Stacey's listing are below them!).

October 5, 2018 at 8:42 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Brooksey
Administrator
Posts: 1683

I'm going to visit "Re-imagining the Doll's House" next Wednesday (Oct 24). Train and hotel booked - looking forward to it!

October 20, 2018 at 5:08 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Zoe H
Administrator
Posts: 1704

Brooksey at October 20, 2018 at 5:08 AM

I'm going to visit "Re-imagining the Doll's House" next Wednesday (Oct 24). Train and hotel booked - looking forward to it!

Hope you have a lovely trip, Brooksey - look forward to hearing about it. x

--

Zoe

https://trulymadlytiny.blogspot.co.uk

http://grecondale.com

October 21, 2018 at 12:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rosemary
Member
Posts: 2489

In hopeful anticipation of the New Site, I have been browsing through some "recent" Greconville Tales. I have been so remote from the antics of the villagers for many months, I needed to recall where and what was going on when the knell of doom on the site struck.

I was amazed and surprised at how beautifully the site is actually working at the moment! No UMS and ERRS and SORRIES to be seen. Too late for it to be repentant - I bet it is feeling lonely and sorry for itself with so few "visitors" these days!  Until I can post pictures again, Greconville remains dormant but restless........as I do too. It will be so wonderful to return to our site in the hopefully near future! Christmas is coming too - it's like waiting for a bus and then four come all at once.

October 30, 2018 at 4:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Brooksey
Administrator
Posts: 1683

I went down to Kent last week, and visited Re-Imagining the Doll's House last Wednesday, Oct 24th. I spent the whole day in the museum from shortly after opening until closing time – and enjoyed it all.


Re-Imagining the Doll's House uses dolls’ houses, as well as other miniatures and related artworks, to illustrate wider social, ecological and political issues in juxtaposition with dolls’ houses as playthings. Rosemary has already commented here on Jenny Kallin’s paintings, which feature old Triangs. Some of the paintings and other pieces on display highlight how the home isn’t always a happy place. This isn't the only view, though - there is some cosiness, too. One vignette has a representation of the artist's grandmother's house atop the massive roots of what would be a very large tree - a statement of nostalgia and the artist's awareness of his personal ancestry. Veronica Tonge’s own piece is one of the darker ones - literally! A contemporary Willow Cottage kit from The Dolls’ House Workshop (who I think ceased trading in 2016/17) is painted black, inside and out, with just an occasional interior wall papered in monochrome designs. Peering in through the windows reveals a dimly lit and very sparsely furnished interior. The rooms present some unsettling images including an overturned chair in one, and a male figure, in silhouette, at the head of a flight of stairs. It was half term in the south of England that week, so a number of children were in the museum. The verdict of several boys on Veronica’s house was “Well creepy!” The two old houses were lovely, and had some gorgeous antique furniture in them. It is a small exhibition, but I don’t think that much more could have been included, because the room itself is small. I think putting in more would have felt cluttered, and nothing could have been displayed to advantage.


I spent two hours altogether with the thought-provoking dolls’ houses. I went in twice: initially, for over an hour before lunch, then another long look before closing time having had a couple of hours in between to reflect on what I’d seen, whilst I explored the museum's other exhibits - including its genuine ancient Egyptian mummy, Ka-Tush.


Veronica very kindly met with me, whilst I was there - three times in all! Firstly, she came to greet me in the exhibition space, then we met again at lunch, and finally, later in the afternoon, in the costume gallery. From there, we continued our conversation over a cup of tea in the museum's lovely café. We talked about the exhibition, the costume gallery (a permanent exhibition, also curated by Veronica), wider politics, the DHP&P website, and our own collections.


I had to spend a day travelling either side of the day of my visit, but it was certainly worth it! The exhibition has one more week to run - catch it if you can!


[I have just edited and expanded this post (08:40, 4/10/2018). Yesterday, the system wouldn't allow me to include most of the punctuation I'd used, nor would it let me edit it - it seems to be allowing both, now]

November 3, 2018 at 11:31 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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