Playhouse - Nicola Pirkis

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London View Inspiration Details

Artist Statement

Nicola Pirkis

My current art practice focuses on childhood toys and the important use of play by children (and adults) to understand their world, particularly in relation to traumatic events.

Playhouse is a metal sculpture based on a child’s dolls’ house. Of the many dolls’ houses I researched through the Museum of Childhood it was the Galt House that inspired me.

Like the Galt House my sculpture can be assembled like a child’s building kit and, using magnets, the internal parts configured in a different way each time. This reflects the way children deal with trauma and grief; revisiting it again and again over time, fitting the pieces together in a new way and then packing it away for another time.

My intention was to move away from a traditional flat-fronted dolls’ house. The viewer is able to observe it from all sides, but not every aspect at once; it's a piece that has to be orbited and explored.

There is no doll inside the house, creating a feeling of isolation and allowing the viewer the possibility of being both observer and at the same time placing themselves within the piece.

The openness of the house implies accessibility, yet within the world of this house one room is shut off by the significant absence of doorways.

Each of the three accessible rooms contains a significant piece, an instantly recognisable object, making the individual room’s function apparent; bedroom, bathroom, living room. Each object has the power to signify comfort, but is in part made of lead, a toxic material and an allusion to the lead traditionally used in children’s toys.

The fourth room, the room with no doorways, contains nothing but doors. Doors without handles, hinges or locks, doors devoid of their function, yet they appear to have an intrinsic purpose.

Playhouse - Nicola Pirkis

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inspiration details:

Doll's House

1960-1964 (made)

V&A collection reference number(s):
MISC. 115-1964

Exhibition Guide

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