Dollies: an animation by Carina Barber

For this final example of design work based on my poems by NTU Graphic Design students, I have chosen an animation of Dollies by Carina Barber. I was very interested to see Carina’s response to the poem and her version of it – I say this because, once a poem is out in the world, its readers, listeners and viewers make the poem afresh for themselves. I love the way that she captures the manufactured nature of the dolls in the poem’s first section and how each perhaps mark different stages in growing up. Through her choice of images she contrasts this sequence with the appearance of a different doll and owner in the poem’s second part. Thank you so much Carina.

Below is a copy of the poem which was published in What They Left Behind (2018, Shoestring Press).



Mum’s ‘heirloom’ was porcelain

with hard eyes

cold, breakable limbs.

Permanently dressed

in a white christening gown

she was nameless, not a toy.


Smothered in baby pink and frilly lace

plastic Mandy bleated her arrival

on my fourth birthday.

She could not wet like Tiny Tears

but I liked her pram with its quilted

coverlet to conceal a book beneath.


Patty, a walking, talking model,

wore a bright red tunic.

She never walked or talked much:

her batteries constantly borrowed

for adventures involving

space travel, walkie-talkie radios.


Sindy was the sophisticated answer

with her striped weekender top, blue swimsuit

outfits for dancing, dressage and dates with Paul.

She could prance in front of a three-way mirror all she liked

but she’d never party with Barbie

owned by girls on the other side of town.



You had to hide your dolly

in a drawer

in a house

in a country

where your family used to live.


It has ruby lips

blue eyes.

You want it back.


-Sue Dymoke-



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