Saturday, January 12, 2013

Andrea Quinlan

A Girl and her Dolls

Alice's room is filled with rotten apple cores, a sewing box, bottles of preserved fruit, a delicate bone china teacup filled with dirty water, pictures, prints, a stuffed rabbit in a glass case and tiny animal skeletons.
There are also two bisque dolls. The largest of these has wavy brown mohair hair and wears a white cotton dress with a matching bonnet. The smaller of these has a sleek honey blonde wig and a pink ruffled dress with glass buttons down the front. The largest doll is called Isabella. The smallest is called Alice. She is something of Alice herself.
Alice herself is something of Alice in Wonderland.
But nothing is wonderful around here.
She is a girl in a room.
She never smiles.
She angrily throws pebbles into a teacup.
Her arms feel tightly bound by the rustling silk of her frilly cuffed sleeves.
She is just waiting to eat tiny biscuits with mysterious shapes on them
And drink from blue bottles of ink.

In the Dollhouse

Marie's room is decorated in pastel colours. Though she is newly married - this is clearly a girl's room. Everything is pale green, pale pink or white.
There is a white metal bed with a white bedspread, a dresser with a porcelain doll perched atop, a white chest of drawers with a pink frilled lampshade and a painting of a little girl, arrangements of dried flowers, a teddy bear and a small white chest with her new initials in gold letters.
There is also a record player on which she can play gentle pop songs whilst lying in bed wearing a pale pink nylon slip and curling her glossy black hair into ringlets.
Marie's wardrobe is filled with candy coloured dresses. There is a green full-skirted cotton dress. There is a yellow dress with puffed sleeves. There is a pink dress which she can wear a crinoline underneath.
For him she wears a purple dress with flowers all over it as she coquettishly poses on a sofa and laughs during the gaps in his speech.
For him she lies still on the bed whilst he pulls of each item of clothing, so gently, so carefully as her skin lies cold and untouched.
When he looks into her eyes it as if he looks right through her. He is looking at her but she isn't there.
She is there.
He isn't looking at her.
When she appears in the dining room with blood and animal innards smeared over her pink bodice he orders her out of the room.
She goes to her own room in disgrace.
A girl who passed through the borders of the dollhouse.
Into the wide open.

Like A Doll

In the first tableau, Lindsay poses sulkily in yellow ruffles as Shirley happily smashes a china doll's teaset.
In the second tableau, Lindsay is dressed in gold high heels, white knee high stockings and an unbuttoned playsuit. She reads a bedtime story to a drowsing Shirley who is perched in her chemise on top of the bed.
In the third tableau, a pink-miniskirted Lindsay glares up at Shirley who has emerged larger than life through the doorframe – there is not room enough in this house for two oversized Alice's.
In the fourth tableau, Lindsay dressed in a belted baby pink coat dries her tears on Shirley's oversized blue babydoll dress skirt.
In the fifth tableau, Shirley and Lindsay have climbed up the hill. Lindsay is no Jill – she is not about to let Shirley kick her down even if she looks fragile.

 A Girl and Her Dolls, In The Dollhouse, & Like A Doll were inspired by the films Something of Alice, Marie Poupee and the Vogue fashion spread "Like a Doll" by Tim Walker.

Andrea Quinlan is a poet and writer based in New Zealand. Her chapbook We Speak Girl was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2012. Another chapbook - The Mysteries of Laura - is forthcoming from Birds of Lace in 2013. She has had poetry published online in Gaga Stigmata, Delirious Hem and NNATAN. Andrea also has a zine project called Story Bought Dress ( &

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