Doll for Petra

About a year ago – it must have been in June – we called in at the Ditchling Museum en route to Charleston, but too briefly to get a proper sense of the highly intelligent new building by Adam Richards and the wealth of the collection.   So, I was really pleased to be asked to the opening of Cathie Pilkington’s installation Doll for Petra which is a way of commenting on, and interpreting, the small wooden doll which Eric Gill made for his daughter, Petra, in 1910, when she was four, in relation to the fact that, as the label baldly states, ‘over a decade later, he sexually abused her’.   Pilkington’s own work is ideally well suited to this task, being figural, but also surreal and, unlike much contemporary art, sexually charged.

This is the Gill doll:-

And these are the dolls done by Cathie in response:-


2 thoughts on “Doll for Petra

  1. Hello, Charles,
    I came to know Eric Gill’s daughter, Johanna and her husband Rene Hague in Shannagary, Ireland in the early 1970s. They never talked about this side of her father, except to say that when the older daughter said she would marry, Rene and Joan said they would marry that same day. In hindsight, I see this was to avoid Joannah being abused.

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