Tag Archives: doll

Charles Ernest Pierotti…A Father’s Great Love.

This morning I was reading was reading in the Good Weekend about Keith Austen’s visit to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Although I’ve been to London, I haven’t been to this museum and it was simply something interesting to read about while having my morning cup of tea and bowl of porridge. Unfortunately, coffee’s verboten as part of my daily ritual these days and I restrict myself to cappuccinos in cafes once or twice a week, where I also allow myself two spoonfuls of sugar, which are also outlawed. Mind you, just to be deliciously inconsistent, chocolate in whatever guise it arrives in, is allowed free reign. I mightn’t have the most agreeable digestive tract and I might be generously proportioned, but I’m not on life support yet. I deserve a few of life’s simple pleasures.

In between mouthfuls of porridge and sips of tea, I read about what could possibly the world’s most tragic tribute ever produced by a grieving parent. Following the death of his infant son Patrick, famed English doll maker, Charles Ernest Pierotti, made an incredibly life-like replica which is on display in a glass case at the V & A.

Austen writes:

“To me the creepiest exhibit is also one of the most beautiful. It’s a pecularly life-like doll which lies in state in a glass cabinet, a wonderfully realized baby boy with curly blond hair and pale blue eyes. He is wearing a simple, embroidered christening gown. Then, you read the label: “Wax-headed baby doll, about 1900. Patrick Enrico Pierotti died as a baby. His father, the English doll-maker Charles Ernest Pierotti, made the dollas a portrait of him.”

Patrick Enrico Pierotti2

Charles Ernest Pierotti: Patrick Enrico Pierotti. Photo: V  & A Museum.

A quick Google search, took me straight into the V&A vault and I could almost reach out and and hold baby Patrick. Feel the weight of a thousand tears and their family’s grieving hearts. Most of us know someone who has endured the grief of losing a baby, or perhaps we have been there ourselves. It’s a shocker…an angst without end.

Interestingly, however, the online catalogue describes the doll in clinical detail without a drop of emotion:

“Wax portrait doll of a young male caucasian child, with blue glass eyes and blonde human hair curls inserted into the wax. It has a pink poured wax shoulder head, with a stuffed cloth body. The doll is dressed in in a long white cotton gown, with ribbon and a whitework trim and rows of tucks. There is also a cream carrying cape of cream patterned cotton, lined with cotton, trimmed with lace and ribbon ties. Long petticoat of coarse linen and whitework, a second petticoat of cream flannel. The chemise is of white linen.”

That I found creepy.

I needed to give this baby more than just a name. At the very least, a start and finish and if I could possibly ever find out, a cause of death. While child mortality was commonplace at the turn of the century, when it came to baby Patrick we have a such a life-like replica which is still in mint condition 118 years later, that I felt he deserved a word story as well as just an image.

Above: Dolls made by Charles Ernest Pierotti Photos: V  & A Museum.

So, I put on my researchers cap and headed off in search of a date of birth, a date of death, which I fully expected to find during that period. However, I found nothing. Nothing official to acknowledge that baby Patrick Pierotti was ever here.

I have to admit, that I’m a bit surprised, especially when this doll made in his very likeness is in the public eye. Surely, I’m not the only one who has probed a little further and asked these questions? So, now I’m off to contact the V & A Museum of Childhood and see if they can shed any light on it, and I’ll keep you posted.

There’s something for you to digest over your breakfast or whichever meal is next on your agenda. It’s rapidly creeping towards dinner time here and I still don’t feel like I’ve fully woken up yet. It’s a miserable, rainy Saturday and after doing my morning errands, I returned to my PJs and had a balmy nap with my electric blanket on. Life is good. That said, it could be a bit more productive.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS While researching this story, I came across an excellent post at Diyala’s blog regarding  Momento Mori: What is it? where she’s produced a very haunting piece of art featuring this baby doll.

 

Bride Doll Leads Me Astray.

There are time you REALLY don’t want to run into someone you know and being seen photographing a doll in a cemetery could very well top the list.

You see, rewinding back to Monday, I am still on my way home from my train trip to Surry Hills and the medical appointment, which really was the reason for the whole trip, not the deviation I’ve portrayed it.

You can read about the train trip down here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/me-myself-i-writing-a-complex-character-profile/

And the trip from Surry Hills to Gore Hill here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/surry-hills-to-gore-hill-sydney-a-hill-climbing-odyssey/

So, I go to my doctor’s appointment and am told I have mild Barrett’s Disease, caused by reflux. They change my medication but are concerned about the stomach acids damaging my lungs and so they want to see me in a month and there’s talk of a small operation. On the upside, the tell me that I won’t need another endoscopy for two years. However, it was looking like I wasn’t going to need another one at all.

One thing is certain. No more chocolate or other snacks just before bed! I don’t drink. I don’t smoke and yet again my one vice comes under attack. What did I ever do to deserve this? Humph! Sometimes, I swear the Wowsers* are out to get me!

I haven’t really given the latest too much thought but there are a few warnings there. The most obvious being “see you in a month”. That’s not a good sign. That’s doctors’ speak for: “Danger, Will Robinson!”

It’s no wonder I’ve been posting quirky photos on my blog…distraction.

The bride doll on the train.

The bride doll on the train.

Anyway, as you might recall, I bought a vintage bride doll for my daughter from the Salvo Store in Surry Hills and I’m lugging her around in a huge Ikea bag along with a chenille bedspread and a cookbook, despite the long trip home. I’m someone who takes their bargains seriously but even I thought it was a bit mad trying to lug this lot up hill and down dale and on multiple trains…especially as I’m not exactly well.

One of my attempts to create a ghost.

One of my attempts to create a ghost.

But these are the sort of feats which build resilience and it could just be that one day that resilience could save my life…if it hasn’t already.

Gore Hill Cemetery in Bloom.

Gore Hill Cemetery in Bloom.

Anyway, not unsurprisingly, there’s an old cemetery just across the road from the hospital: Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery. Established on 19 May 1868, the first body was interred in 1877 and it closed in 1974. I have a few relatives buried there, although I’ve never found their graves.

These days the cemetery is almost used as a park and there are park benches and in Spring, the place comes alive with a diversity of flowers.

DSC_3052

Anyway, since I was walking past, I thought I’d photograph the bride doll, which I have since named Lucinda, in the cemetery. I wondered if she would come out looking like a ghost with the long white dress and I thought there might be some good backdrops as well, given the age of the place.

Looking very glamorous!

Looking very glamorous!

However, even though we are at the tail-end of Winter, very few flowers were out but photographic conditions were perfect so I decided to mostly just take advantage of the light.

This one looks quite eerie, especially with a bit of help from Photoshop.

This one looks quite eerie, especially with a bit of help from Photoshop.

While I find the idea of taking photographs in the cemetery intriguing, I am, of course, mindful that these are not just names etched in stone but the remains of loved ones, which need to be respected.

So, after a few photos, Lucinda and I caught the train home and I was able to find out a bit more about her on Google. She is a Mighty Star Doll and was made in Canada during the 60s or 70s. I am thinking that she might have been used to model wedding gowns. I’m not sure. The clothes have actually been sewn onto her. If anybody knows more about her, I’d love to know.

It’s also a bit intriguing how she came to Australia. No doubt brought over by a little girl or perhaps brought back here as a gift.

Hard to believe how much I managed to cram into one day and how many new ideas are peculating around inside my head.

There is such a thing as creative overdrive!

xx Rowena

*Wowser: In Australia, it is a derogatory word denoting a person who saps all the fun out of any given situation. Derived from the temperance movement in Australia and New Zealand at the turn of the C20th, when it was hurled as an accusation towards conservative teetotallers who were too prim and proper to relax and socialise, it has become a more generic term that can be assigned to any straight bore lacking a sense of humour, especially petty bureaucrats and Aussies politicians. http://www.urbandictionary.com