Grisly BDSM Dolls Aren't Your Grandma's Porcelain Figurines

Mia-Jane Harris subverts dainty china dolls with bolts, chains, and jerky made from roadkill.

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Jul 27 2017, 2:54am

All images courtesy the artist.

Dainty porcelain dolls, the kind you'd find in antique stores or your grandmother's china cabinet, meet BDSM in Mia-Jane Harris's Meat Maidens sculpture series. The feminine figures are transformed by swapping their delicate limbs for meaty, fawn-like legs and their traditional jewelry for fetishized chains. One doll crouches with her hands clasped in subdued prayer, while another lies against a wall with her legs spread, delicately touching the bolts and chains that weigh down her slim neck. The figures all wear different hairstyles: a billowing Georgian wig, a reddish Victorian ponytail, and a flapper's 1920s cut.

Also known for her Beautiful Corpse series, Harris's Meat Maidens are an assemblage of thrifted porcelain figurines, found metals, and preserved animal meat. "The vintage porcelain figures I use are ones that I have come across in junk shops, second-hand stores, and markets, and the meat I use is from animals I've found either dead by the side of the road or that have had natural deaths out in the countryside," Harris tells Creators.

Harris reconstructs her found materials and paints submissive expressions over each of her figurines faces. Her maidens carry confidence and strength in their unusual form and tempt the viewer to explore a world of fetishism and female submission. "My maidens aim to explore the submissive woman's battle between states of empowerment and vulnerability within the fetish lifestyle," Harris explains. "When is it for pleasure? When is it for comfort? When is it for love? When is it for self-destruction? When are we in control? When are we being controlled? When are we the precious beloved one? And when are we just meat?"

Harris's maidens are a far cry from the modest and characterless dolls they once were. Renewed and resurrected, they confront the view that a woman cannot be both sexually submissive and a feminist. "These are not sculptures that represent weak women, these are dolls that represent women who are brave enough to get what they want, however taboo and however occasionally frightening that may be," says Harris. "Submissive women have complete control over the situations that they choose, and it should not be thought of that they are submissive purely for the pleasure of their dominant."

Harris recycles animal meat from her taxidermy work and incorporates it into the Meat Maidens project. Initially, she rebuilds the porcelain dolls' lower half with clay and wire. Once the clay foundations have dried, she cuts animal matter into slender sections. "These sheets of meat are then injected with a 99.9% alcohol substance before being wrapped around the new clay legs of the doll," Harris says. "They are then left by a window in the sunshine until the meat has mummified. The alcohol dries the meat from the inside, and the sun dries it from the outside. Once it is completely dry, the mummified meat will not decay."

Harris then coats the dry meat in a translucent porcelain glaze which gives the maidens' legs the appearance of semi-precious stone or varnished wood. She then adds minute kink accessories such as tiny chains and leather collars. "The metals used for these intricate bondages are scrap metals I have found from searching for materials washed up from the river Thames. Mudlarking, as this is called, sources a lot of the materials that I use in my work."

To view more of Harris's work, visit her website and Instagram.

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