Val learnt the basic technique of papier-mâché dollmaking at a local community art workshop and was struck by the potential of a process where something from nothing could emerge in a short time.
Val is a mother of six, so time must be managed. What Val creates
is a folksy reflection of the characters of our world. All the characters
that Val fashions have already been mediated or manufactured for us;
they are stereotypes of vocations, mythical characters from the past,
TV characters, storybook characters, fairytale characters, animals,
comic characters. They are all named, they are all carefully painted all
over (even inside cloaks or under skirts), and they are manufactured in
a business-like manner. Val has evolved systems to improve efficiency
of production in order to satisfy the demand for the dolls, and she
enlists the aid of her children to help.
These works have become very popular and collectible.
What appeals initially about these little characters is their
familiarity and the charm of their scale and their direct and vivid
presence, but then there is something else; Val’s dolls present a
vaguely creepy quality that we attach to any effigy, the voodoo
doll, the trapped soul, the ventriloquist’s dummy that controls the
Through her efficient, purposeful creations and her natural design
ability with the added sprinkle of humour, emerges the suspicion that
all the discarded creatures of our world have been resurrected in
paper and with bright reflective paint over their crinkled skin; they
have come back.