Barbara Ash stresses on gender issues and beauty myths in her art. She uses almost identical doll sculptures to speak out the subject. Dolls that bear names like ‘Strawberry Delight’, ‘Peaches and Cream’ and so on tell us of the moulding of females to fit into a particular advertised genre of women.

Barbara Ash at Kashi Art Café has displayed works from her time at the Sandarbh International Artists Residency. She, through sculptures and drawings titled ‘Sugar and Spice’ displays her close association with feelings concerning ne w media/globalisation and its influence upon the female psyche, especially one’s sexuality. Having seen it exist heavily in India, Barbara who hails from UK is intrigued by the lure of cosmetics, advertisements and ‘pressure’ that silently demand Asian women to imitate their western counterparts.

She uses almost identical doll sculptures to speak out the subject. Dolls that bear names like ‘Strawberry Delight’, ‘Peaches and Cream’ and so on tell us of the moulding of females to fit into a particular advertised genre of women. Each of these dolls carry a difference in skin-tone [skin tone often being the yard stick for beauty].

Dolls

Those that bind women to demanding standards put forth by new media, for example. Interestingly, Barbara has placed these dolls on plastic stools now, commonly seen in India as against the traditional ones, which have been sprinkled with dal!

Dal represents the staple food of the average Indian, and there arises from it a goddess which has imbibed what is deemed ‘beautiful’ by the west. In her installation of dolls called ‘Colours’ she harps on the little value women give to their own sexuality, and the hierarchy of skin colour that exists strongly, almost vehemently in post colonial India and abroad.

She throws light upon the sensitivity of the matter, and the fierce position that ‘skin-colour’ continues to hold in the world today.

Barbara’s ideas also continue in her ‘Personal care’ series. A triptych, it pays attention to the artificial promotion of cosmetics that aims at attracting the average woman by flamboyant advertisements of beautiful and ‘perfect’ images of models by introducing products like artificial hair extensions, surgical implants and fairness creams.

Her work takes upon another level as she merges traditional methods with modern ideas and methodologies. Surrounding many of her works are also cuttings of western models, those who would one day be the central focus of these children. Thus there is an interesting and amusing juxtaposition of paper-cuttings, digital imagery [from advertisements off the internet, for example] and drawings in watercolour to create an expression of what she sees and intends to say: She questions womanhood, female sexuality and the individuality that is lost in a world of ‘deceit.’