Art/Lit Salon: Dolls

Date: 14/3/24
Speakers: Karen McCarthy Woolf, Liorah Tchiprout

Only RSL Members can book this in-person event for free. Public tickets can be purchased via the The London Library, starting at £8, here.

6.45pm, Thursday 14 March at The London Library.

Join us for chat, discussion, drinks and thought-provocation as we partner with Art/Lit, The London Library’s salon event, which explores all things art, all things literature and where the two forms collide. 

We’re taking inspiration from Greta Gerwig and riding the Barbie wave by delving into the world of dolls, with poet and novelist Karen McCarthy Woolf and artist Liorah Tchiprout, both of whom use dolls to construct alternative realities in the worlds of their latest work. 

Karen McCarthy Woolf’s debut novel Top Doll imagines the world as seen and narrated by the vast collection of antique dolls left behind by the reclusive billionaire Huguette Clark when she died at the age of 104. The dolls tell tales which take us from their lavish Park Avenue home, back in time to the slave plantations of Virginia and the palaces of Imperial Japan via the addictive hedonism of 1930s queer LA. Told in a fusion of poetry and prose, it is a highly unreliable, semi-fictional miniature epic of love, betrayal, Barbies and ultimately, what it means to be human. 

Liorah Tchiprout’s recent debut solo exhibition at Marlborough Gallery, ’Two Eyes Wide Open at the Edge of Dawn’, consists of paintings, monotypes and etchings, all portraits of subjects who gaze confidently at the viewer or who turn away lost in thought, with expressions of sorrowful longing and self-assuredness, as modelled by a cast of dolls, which she makes in her studio. The titles of the works are taken from songs and poetry to reflect the inner lives of the ‘sitters’ and the interior experience of womanhood and the work is inspired by Yiddish women writers and artists including Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Charlotte Salomon and Celia Paul. 

In conversation, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Liorah Tchiprout discuss dolls, collections of dolls, and what dolls can tell us about our own realities, our histories and our humanity. 

Karen McCarthy Woolf FRSL is the author of two poetry collections An Aviary of Small Birds which was an Observer Book of the Year and Seasonal Disturbances, winner of the inaugural Laurel Prize for ecological poetry. She is the editor of seven literary anthologies and her radio credits include Night Shift, a reworking of Homer’s Odyssey for R4 Book of the Week; Miss Birdie’s Letter, a music/poetry travelogue for R3 Between the Ears; and a collaborative adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando which was a BBC Drama of the Week. Recently she has worked at the Promise Institute for International Human Rights Law as a Fulbright Scholar, co-presented R4’s Poetry Please, lectured in China and collaborated with various techno music producers for events across London. Top Doll is her debut novel. 

Liorah Tchiprout is an artist whose work explores girlhood, belonging and the theatrical, building physical puppet characters to construct her own pantheon from which to draw images. She studied at the University of Brighton, Bezalel School of Art and Design, Jerusalem, and UAL Camberwell.  She was shortlisted for the Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize and The Ingram Prize and selected for the Print Futures Award and New Contemporaries 21. Her work is held in collections including Soho House, Clifford Chance, the Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection and The UK Government Art Collection. In 2023 she was awarded the Sunny Dupree Family Award for a Woman Artist at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. She is represented by the Marlborough Gallery where her recent exhibition was Two Eyes Wide Open at the Edge of Dawn. 

In partnership with The London Library. Supported by Fondation Jan Michalski.

NB Doors (and the bar and chat) open at 6.45pm, the talk will run from 7.15-8.15/8.30pm and the bar will close at 8.45pm. 

Karen McCarthy Woolf’s Top Doll and the exhibition catalogue for Liorah Tchiprout’s Two Eyes Wide Open at the Edge of Dawn will be available to buy at the event and online from The London Library’s partner bookshop Hatchards

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