Suicide Bomber Dolls Go On Show
Few people would describe the Pope or the Scientology founder, L.Ron Hubbard, as cute and cuddly.
However, in his exhibition Cupco Is God, the artist Luke Temby has turned them into hand-stitched plush dolls. He has made a Jesus doll, a Satan doll and various Indian gods. His Queen Elizabeth is the Church of England's representative of God on Earth, and his Joan of Arc is listening to music from the Smiths on a melting Walkman.
He has made suicide-bomber dolls that fall into two categories: little green monsters and female martyrs. "They're heroes or devils depending on your perspective," he says.
There is no Allah doll because "you're not allowed to represent him, and I thought I'd better not".
The 34-year-old artist began making toys during a five-year stint in Japan and produces them under the label Cupco. There are about 50 dolls in this exhibition and the most elaborate, a many-armed Hindu goddess named Kali, took three weeks to complete. Temby, who is also a graphic designer, website designer and animator, created the designs on his computer, cut out the shapes in felt, then glued, stitched and stuffed them by hand.
"I wanted to be respectful, and a little bit irreverent at the same time," he says. "If I'd just designed them on the computer and printed them out, then it wouldn't be so reverent, but because I'm spending a lot of time doing it and thinking about it, I think it's quite OK."
Each doll has a detachable head, and in the show's second week Temby is considering swapping the heads around. "I want to do L.Ron everyone: L.Ron Kali, L.Ron Moses, Queen Elizabeth Ron Hubbard. Just heaps of different mixes. Maybe even a Joan of Moses," he says.
Temby doesn't believe in God, but wanted to cover as many religious figures as possible. Some he drew from his own general knowledge, some from internet research, and some he stumbled across. "If you go to Strathfield or Newtown, there's all these different representations of God everywhere … Kali I discovered in a little Indian shop," he says.
He has long wanted to make a Hitler doll, but says it would have to be in the right context.
"Actually, that was one of the reasons I did this show. I was thinking of doing Hitler and he could be in hell. But then I forgot [to do him]. Shit. Now I'll have to do a Sound Of Music series with all the kids and some stormtroopers."
Cupco Is God is at the Damien Minton Gallery in Redfern until Sunday.