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Klaudia Gaugier – Souls encased in the dolls

Klaudia Gaugier’s dolls might seem funny or scary. Each of them has a unique personality. They are like characters from Grimm’s gloomy fairy tales.

Some of them smile ingratiatingly, others look at you grimly, darkly, with fear, pain or helplessness. These dolls are targeted mainly at adults. They are materialised dreams, desires or fears – easier to tame when they are tangible. They charm extraordinary people, who still have the sensitivity of a child.

According to Klaudia Gaugier, the dolls are containers, in which we can find energy or roaming souls. Her works are presented at exhibitions in Poland and abroad. “Dolls can be moving. Mine aren’t artificially pretty or classic beauties. Some people might even believe that they are ugly or frightening. I don’t look at them in this way”, says the puppeteer.

Her adventure with dolls began, as she says, accidentally – for her, dolls were a revelation. “I created angels made of felt and I was surprised by their expressiveness, though I used only very simple materials – tissue sewn with a thread and a few beads. I thought that if a piece of felt could actually smile at me, what would happen if “I cast the emotions” in clay and added a body? The first fully finished doll that she created was called “Cat”, and ate fish with an open, tooth-filled mouth.

From her home city of Łódź, she moved into Wrocław to study painting, graphic arts and sculpture. During her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, she became fascinated with medieval, sacred and folk figures.

According to Klaudia, in order to make an expressive doll, you have to follow specific stages of fabrication, but the need to create has to come from your heart. Her dolls are a cross between a rag doll and a porcelain doll. When she decides to make a new character, she usually needs about a month to prepare all the necessary components. She begins with creating the face, which is always unique, as she does not use casts. She tries to give it a timeless character. Then she painstakingly paints the eyes, using a selection of colours and shades – this is the most time-consuming, but also the most important moment, giving the doll its originality. She stuffs the inside of the textile body with the polyester fibre, which is springy and preserves the shape of the doll.

In Klaudia’s opinion, dolls are the perfect medium to express the deepest feelings and emotions, at the same time leaving space for ambiguity. They are a perfect mix of the tangible with the intangible and desirable.

Klaudia’s dolls have an incredible internal force. They can be funny or frightening, they have their own expression and personality. That is why they can arouse extreme emotions – this is the source of their success, and this is what fascinates people. She says  the most important element of creating a doll is the chance to endow an object with spirituality. A doll can be spiritual if it seems to be alive – because of the way it looks at you, its facial expression or its gestures. For Klaudia, the creative process involves imbuing the material doll with spirituality, resulting in a finished product with deep character.

Klaudia is a pioneer of making this kind of dolls on a large scale in Poland. She has achieved great success and her dolls – shown on exhibitions in Poland and abroad – made their debut on stage when Konrad Dworakowski directed “Cinderella” in the Pinokio Theatre in Łódź with her dolls and her stage design. Her dolls have also appeared in international magazines: Arletta made it to the front cover of the American Art Doll Quarterly, while Little Red Riding Hood and Lupus were in the Doll Collector magazine. The Polish puppeteer’s name appeared on the poster of the international doll exhibition DOLLIRIUM Art Doll Emporium.

Marta Hernandez
Photos: Artist’s archive