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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Prick Your Finger: Who is Mary Jane?

Preview, London

Written by Polly Corrigan

How important is the relationship between an artist and her aunt? For Miriam Zadik Gold, whose latest exhibition ‘Who is Mary Jane’ opens at Prick Your Finger on June 18, it’s a pretty damn important relationship.

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Photo by Kirsty Hall

In fact, it’s fair to say that the work in the show wouldn’t exist without Miriam’s Aunt Sue, a car-boot sale connoisseur who runs a stall selling buttons, badges and old Ladybird books every Saturday at Broadway Market. It was Aunt Sue who found six old ceramic dolls heads in a charity shop and bought them for her niece whom she thought would like them. Miriam did like them, but couldn’t think what to do with them and put them high on a shelf in her studio for a few years.

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It wasn’t until she was crocheting a pair of Mary Jane shoes for her own daughter that Miriam began to wonder about Mary Jane – why were the shoes named after her? Who was she? And why did so many musicians name-check her in their songs?

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Things began to take shape. Miriam spent hours on the internet, noting down every Mary Jane-related song lyric she could find, from Nick Drake through to John Lennon to Mary J. Blige. Taking the lyrics as her inspiration she created a different Mary Jane persona for each of the dolls’ heads, and began to craft bodies, clothes and backgrounds for each one. When she came across things she couldn’t make, such as a tiny denim jacket, she turned to dolls’ clothes makers on etsy.com and commissioned miniature pieces for her band of tiny muses.

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Miriam hopes that by giving these dolls a little more of an identity, she will bestow more of an inner life to the somewhat submissive Mary Janes described in the songs: ‘There was something quite passive about the way the dolls were waiting on the shelf for me to give them a story, to give them a life. For each one, I quickly had a clear sense of a little story of my own that sat behind the lyrics.’

Click here for more information about Prick Your Finger and their upcoming events.

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