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  • Writer's pictureSheree Hoddinett

Dolls on Display

The Northside Doll Circle will feature the biggest trading display of dolls and bears in Queensland at their upcoming show this weekend, 12 March, 2023.

Featuring a theme of Ladies on Parade with costumes from 1850 to 1880, there will also be displays including Barbie dolls and so much more.

“We are the only doll show in Queensland that has a competition. We’ve always had a high quality one and we’re quite proud of that.”

A mixture of patience, time, care, research and most importantly, love, all go into the art of doll making. For Northside Doll Circle president Kerry Love it’s a craft that has been a part of her life now for more than 35 years. Her own collection is vast, with dolls of all shapes and sizes filling cabinets, shelves and other spaces in and around her Strathpine home. Kerry and fellow Northside Doll Circle members are busily preparing for their annual show on March 12 where attendees will be treated to the biggest and best display of dolls, bears and other craft in Queensland.

When you think about dolls, forget everything you see in your local toy store. Instead, imagine porcelain, lace, glass eyes, historic clothing and shoes, hats, wigs, antique jewellery and even parasols. These are just some of the aspects involved in bringing a doll to life. For Kerry, who loves working on antique reproductions dolls, it’s a much loved hobby and a big part of her life, one that has brought with it a more than she could have ever imagined.

“It’s a lovely thing to do,” Kerry says of the benefits of doll making. “It creates great friendships and I’ve been to places I never would have before or would never have gone to if I didn’t have the people I have met through the group.

“It’s also a good thing for women because we are very supportive of each other. It’s something that is good for your well-being, your mental health and just gives you something else to focus on in your life.”

The show is deep in history, sharing and showcasing a myriad of creations to the community for 35 years. After a two-year hiatus thanks to Covid, this year’s show is coming back bigger and better than ever. This year’s theme is “Ladies on Parade” concentrating on the years 1850 to 1880. There will also be competitions and a large number of other displays including Barbie Dolls and miniature doll houses. For those taking part in the competition, $100 will be awarded to Porcelain Doll of the Show and $50 will go to the Bear of the Show.

“We are the only doll show in Queensland that has a competition. We’ve always had a high quality one and we’re quite proud of that,” Kerry says. “There’s so much to come and see, because it is a mixture of dolls, bears and crafts. We used to only have dolls and bears but we found that people who do craft they don’t really have places to display or sell it, so we decided to include that aspect as well. It’s really a great day for everyone to come and see it as a family.”

Given the large number of dolls in her home, Kerry can’t even get close to putting a number on it (too many if you ask her husband), but doll making is something she hopes to see continue into the next generation.

“I’ve been making dolls for many, many years,” Kerry says. “I used to make cloth dolls, when my kids were young just to make some pocket money and they weren’t toy ones, they were good quality and adults bought them for themselves and it kind of grew from that.

“I had two sons which everyone thinks is hilarious because they aren’t interested in it at all. It’s more the art form for me, because it’s quite a difficult thing to do.

“But sadly young people these days aren’t interested and it’s a shame because when we older people disappear, it’s going to die out, it’s fast becoming a dying art. A lot of people haven’t got the time either. It’s sad to see it disappear because it really is a beautiful art.”

Kerry has relished her role as the Northside Doll Circle president now for six years, one that she fell into by chance. She has been part of the group now for almost the entire time it has been in existence.

“We used to have a huge club but people pass away, they move, go into nursing homes or their lives change because we are part of the older generation,” Kerry says. I feel a bit sad because if we manage another show next year, it could be the last one and we have a really good show. We love being able to show the community something a bit different and hope they enjoy it.”

Although she’s no spring chicken and starting to feel the effects of her much-loved hobby, you won’t see Kerry putting down the tools of her art anytime soon.

“There’s always a way to get things done,” she says with a laugh. “But I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“There’s a lot of research involved with older dolls with the clothing and hairstyle, it’s a real challenge, but once it’s done you can sit back and say “I did that”. I love being able to do all that and help others with their creations as well, it brings about a real sense of achievement.”

The Northside Doll Circle Doll, Bear & Craft Show is on Sunday 12 March, 2023 (9am-3pm) at the Strathpine Community Centre (enter from Mecklem Street, Strathpine). Tickets are $10 with children under 15 free. As the group is not-for-profit, funds raised will go to local community charity groups including QCWA Rural Crisis Fund and LinC. For further information, please contact Kerry on 0419 759 018 or look out for Northside Doll Circle on Facebook.


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