Kendal Murray’s new collection of miniature sculptures explores the ontological currency of toys and the psychological forces that motivate individuals to collect. The works allegorise the experience of play, both the act of pretend play and a remembered experience for the collector. Motifs such as tea cups, spinning tops, toy telephones and timber games are combined with other household objects to represent the duality of toys as both a celebration of youth and rite of passage into adulthood.
‘Show and Tell’ considers the formative link between toys and human identity. Children learn the language of imaginative substitutions through the pretend play taught to them by their parents. Toys become symbolic proxies for other objects, helping to nurse a nascent identity by initiating the child into the world of the adult. In many of the works, Murray examines the psychoanalytic significance of dolls as substitutive ‘alter-egos’, repositories of a child’s hopes and dreams. A loyal, silent companion, the doll teaches a child normative sociocultural codes by emblematically absorbing and translating the world of the adult. Sculptures such as Long Ago, Let It Go and Bloom, Resume, Assume, Costume tacitly explore how dolls and anthropomorphic toys are not only used to assimilate the child into adulthood, but also how they embody cultural changes to understandings of childhood innocence.