One of Margriet Aasman’s pieces in the art show, I Never Really Played with Dolls, at Arts Underground. Aasman collaborated with sculptor Sandra Storey for the exhibit. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

Whitehorse gallery gets all dolled up

Sculptors craft creepy dolls that tell mythical stories

Hanging from the wall, the dolls have eyes that seem to follow you, many white eyes in faces with unwavering stares that never change. Sometimes they have human features with sad expressions, other times they have the head and feet of animals, as in “Rabbit Warrior,” a militant figure with a demeanor made curiously comical by his long ears. Using clay, wire and fabric, Sandra Storey and Margriet Aasman’s new show I Never Really Played with Dolls creates a macabre, intriguing, dark collaboration.

The creations are the brainchildren of longtime sculptor Storey and graphic designer Aasman. The pair initially came together as student and teacher, as Aasman — who had a solo show in 1991, working in pastels — wanted to learn how to use clay, they said. However, the relationship quickly evolved.

“I went first with (Storey) to learn how to work with clay,” Aasman said. “And dolls just sort of became part of the process.”

Aasman said the pair really didn’t know each other before they started working together in this capacity, something which changed over time. The process involved a lot of “brainstorming” and “problem solving,” she said. Deciding what to create, how to make it, even how the dolls should be jointed was all an intense collaborative process.

“We have a really good friendship — that’s really what this show is about: our friendship and relationship…. When you’re working with a team of creative people, you’re all just better.”

Sculpture, said Storey, is often a very solitary process, and working with someone so intensely was a new experience for both of them.

“If you can imagine spending a year with someone you don’t know, that amount of creative time with someone…. Your relationship is accelerated,” Storey said.

“Margriet is one of my dearest friends now.”

Perhaps one of the most visually striking pieces is a sculpture entitled “Sedna.” Based on the Inuit spiritual being of the same name — the goddess Sedna is typically associated with control of the sea, specifically the marine mammals Inuit hunters rely upon — the piece features a large ship replete with miniature fish and birds, delicate and deliberately-crafted whales and seals. Other pieces in the collection also appear to be heavily influenced by First Nations cultures, such as the intricate “Caribou Shaman,” an anthropomorphic figure whose chest opens up into compartments which hold various birds and animals.

“I’ve always been interested in mythology and folklore,” Storey said. “Mythology is a way to make sense of what we don’t understand by looking at the everyday.”

“There’s a crossover with First Nations (mythology) but we all have personal experiences about how these animals (in the North) behave.”

Some of the work is quite personal, Aasman said. One of the dolls, for example, commemorates the time her younger sister fell through the ice while she was out for a walk and the strength she exhibited in getting herself out.

“Here’s a doll you can toss aside and rip the stuffing out of and discard, but it’s so resilient,” she said.

With their strange, unfriendly faces and their vacant stares, the figures may appear to some to be more sculpture than any “doll” you might want to give a child, but both Storey and Aasman refer to them that way.

“Call them dolls,” said Storey. “After all, what is a doll?”

The show runs in the Focus Gallery of Arts Underground until Oct. 28.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

Artsdollssculpture

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read