Spring 21

"I grew up in the UK until I was  near 11, and my 80s toys, along with the scent of strawberry plastic, resurface here. Barbie, Cindy and My Little Ponies are scattered through happy memories just as years ago they lay scattered over the living room floor of our family home. When I look at Collection 10, I can feel my young, doll dresser self at the toy shop, tugging at my mother's clothes, quietly begging, Please, Mummy, please pleeeease can we buy it? Woven into the Collection is a trip through memory to the edge of my teens. Like many of my generation, I am a child of divorce. My parents broke up after we moved to America, so a lot of my early association with California is tied to the split. Divorce is often portrayed in movies and books as traumatic. While the experience was sad and serious, I find myself also recalling some wonderful, formative times related to my dad moving out. One of his homes in particular feels now like an important time capsule. His first girlfriend, still like an aunt to me today, was different. She is Belgian, but also distinctively American. She came into my life with lots of friends, a contagious laugh, warm hugs, and a plethora of compliments. She filled her and my father’s cream carpeted apartment with 90s pastel paintings, and mismatched floral couches. She gave me my first sewing machine, and we went garage sale-ing every Sunday, collecting lavish, outdated dresses and ridiculous, silky slips to add to my dress up box. I looked forward to weekends and the chance to spend all day in costume, and nights curled up on my little bed next to my little brother on his, snuggled under my Monet-inspired pastel twin blanket with a Judy Blume book, then falling asleep to the sound of my dad snoring in the next room. That blanket has come to represent my aesthetic and how it began on the brink of my teens, undressing Barbie in the privacy of her garage-sale purchased plastic home, pink convertible parked outside, wearing a freshly sewn outfit. Pouring bowls of sugary cereal, watching Nickelodeon, I would relax, silently accepting what I was beginning to know then and understand now were the last of the socially acceptable make-believe years. With Selkie, I get to play again, whatever the year.

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