More than doll's play

Featuring some 130 larger-than-life creations, the Art and Dolls Expo Jerusalem may change the way you look at dolls.

A doll creation by Helena Konin from the Art and Dolls Expo Jerusalem (photo credit: Courtesy)
A doll creation by Helena Konin from the Art and Dolls Expo Jerusalem
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Art and Dolls Expo Jerusalem, featuring about 130 art dolls from Israel and around the world, is currently taking place at the city’s picturesque Sergei's Courtyard.
“Art dolls, which are also called “author dolls” differ from those kids usually play with. They are closer to a museum exhibit than to
child’s toy, and more often than not there is a story behind it, says the exhibit initiator Svetlana Pchelnikova, an internationally
renowned doll artist in her own right.
 “The dolls are fully hand-made,  all materials are natural and even the dolls' hairdos are put together from single hairsprings,” said
Pchelnikova , adding  that a doll artist has to be a sculptor, a costume designer, an artist and much more.
The Russian artist, who is a member of both the British Doll Artists Association and the National Institute of American Doll Artists said that doll artists can forge a message with their creations.
 “Nowadays, people from all over  Europe commission dolls of their kids in their sweetest age, which is about five or so. But the dolls
are able to also send a message. We have a doll [in the exhibit] of a beautiful young girl who has gone through a breast resection as a result of cancer. This doll is a message to all women to undergo checks,  also a homage to all those who has suffered from breast
Dolls can be merry and they can be sad, explains Pchelnikova. “It's like in Japan, which I called 'The Land of 100 Hundred Dolls.' The Japanese keep sad dolls in their homes, because you can share your pains and troubles and she will surely understand you, as if it is your friend or your shrink.”
Pchelnikova has known her share of suffering. Married with two children, she was in a serious car accident, resulting in a double
spine fracture. Almost completely paralyzed, she spent a year in the hospital. One day, her mother said, “it’s about time to restore your fine motor skills,” and brought her some her some plasticine.
Slowly, Pchelnikova fully restored her physical abilities, abandoned her office job and dedicated herself to art dolls. The location of the current doll expo in Jerusalem has special significance for her.
“I used to have nightmares in the hospital, screaming and waking up everybody around. But there was another woman in the ward, who told me stories and helped calm me down. Ten years ago, she immigrated to Israel and became a popular kids’ writer. In many ways, this exhibition is dedicated to her – to my dearest friend Galina Berkenheim.”
The Jerusalem Art and Dolls Expo runs through September 15th.
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