The Vision Magazine
2009- The Vision Magazine, August #11, p32. Copenhagen, Denmark
Full article posted below
By the time her contemporaries had progressed from childhood toys to adult vocations, Marina Bychkova was still playing with dolls. As the creator of Enchanted Dolls, Bychkova – a Siberian native who together with her family emigrated from Russia to Canada at the age of fourteen – creates darkly erotic yet breathtakingly beautiful porcelain dolls. Often reflecting a visual narrative grounded in the dark undertones of classic fairytales, the fragile and vulnerable beauty of her work is almost iconographic.
Leaving behind the magnificence of the Siberian landscape – and the multitude of dolls she created from grass stalks, paper, screws and wire, Bychkova found a language with which she could express herself creatively. “The toys I had as a child were very unremarkable and uninspiring plastic objects of Soviet era mass production. They began to bore me very quickly and I think that it’s that profound dissatisfaction with my playthings that drove me into making my own dolls at age six. In the time I grew up in, there was no concept of dolls existing outside of the child sphere or being accepted as an adult pastime, so toys were made for the purpose of being abused and eventually discarded by toddlers. There was no beauty in them. That’s when I began my quest of making my perfect doll – and I never grew out of it. When I turned 20, I vowed to make the most beautiful toy in the world,” she explains.
Her inspiration derives from fine art to dinner forks, but she is particularly drawn to highly ornamental, figurative and narrative forms of expression such as illustration, jewellery and fashion: “I’m in love with the visual decadence of ornament and sensuality of human body, and try to combine them in my dolls. But in reality it’s impossible to separate what inspires me and what doesn’t because, ultimately, inspiration is everywhere. Ideas are everywhere. Every experience, every encounter, every mundane object can be a profound source of inspiration. It all depends on the context, perception and frame of mind. Like they say: “Seek and you shall find.” And I seek all the time,” she explains.
The concept – or theme – for each doll is a process that can take months and evolve during this time; especially as the actual doll-making process takes up to 350 hours. Each individual doll is created with a hand-eye coordination that surpasses that of most. The dolls’ features are painstakingly painted by hand, and the same steady hand meticulously crafts each item of clothing complete with ornate beading, embroidery and precious metal and gemstone accessories. The resilience of porcelain – her medium of choice – is as enduring as the tales from which her inspiration derives: “Fine porcelain has always been perceived as a very delicate material, when in fact it’s very strong and durable. I want people to play with my dolls!
Enchanted Dolls are net just useless pretty objects for sitting on your shelf and gathering dust. They are functional toys, designed and made to withstand a lot of handling. The china-painted features of the doll will never wear off, their beautiful white bodies won’t yellow or soil with age and their silky skin will remain scratch-free forever,” says Bychkova, whose fear of ageing is manifested in the durability of her medium – ensuring she will leave behind a legacy in the form of her enchanted ‘children’