In the poverty stricken parts of London during the 1890s, children used to stitch together discarded shoes, bones and fabric scraps to conjure what would somewhat resemble a little doll. Some of these are found in the Edward Lovett Doll Collection at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh.
In her work, Kate Davis has examined historical narratives and has re-evaluated marginalised stories, an interest that brought her to drawing some of these dolls for the exhibition Eight Blocks or a Field (Temporary Gallery, Cologne, 2013) where she reconsidered the use value of certain objects that have become redundant or obsolete.
These four acutely observed portraits of ‘emergent’ dolls are rendered with the inclusion of background settings, adaptions from nineteenth-century French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). They have been donated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, contributing to the gallery’s objective to represent a wider range of Scottish artists as well as contemporary female artists. Furthermore, the subject matter and form of Davis’s works allow for meaningful links to be made with the historic and portrait holdings of the NGS collection that span the early Renaissance to the present day.
Informed by successive waves of feminist art and theory, Davis works across a range of mediums, including drawing, moving image, printmaking and photography in order to respond to the aesthetic of political ambiguities of specific artworks and narratives. Her art often refers to the body, either through visual representation, as an underlying idea, or the way in which it is created.
Davis currently has an exhibition Nudes Never Wear Glasses at the Stills Gallery, Edinburgh until 8th October 2017.