Monday, July 30, 2007

South Africa home to Miniatures' Artist Debbie Dixon-Paver

This morning I was pruning my e-mail inbox and came across a message I had almost forgotten that arrived while I was in New York. Debbie Dixon-Paver is a miniature doll artist living in South Africa. She had come across the website featuring the historical figures of George Stuart and had emailed the contact address asking when more of his figures were scheduled to be added to the website. As the programmer for Mr. Stuart's website, I am copied on emails sent to it so I replied to her that we are presently working on the addition of figures of the Bourbon Dynasty to the website and should have them online by September.

Debbie emailed me back when she realized I was the doll enthusiast with the extensive historical collection she had seen online and included images of some of her wonderful miniature groups. They are part of a collection she calls "Songbook" because she used song titles as inspiration for them. I found them meticulously detailed with realistic faces. Even the puppetmaker's tiny creations had finely detailed features and costumes. I was able to instantly recognize Henry VIII! The gentle face of her peddler woman as she gazes at her sweet little apprentice is quite poignant. The two little girls in their early 20th century beach suits are also quite winsome as they look up at the "medicine" man hawking his latest potion.

Debbie also depicts a brigand of the high seas to satisfy the customers who may be suffering from the latest craze of pirate worship stirred up by the series of films, "Pirates of the Carribean".

She also offers a salute to the "Free Love" generation of the 60s with her offering "Flower Children". I had to smile when I saw them since they still sport the trademark tie-dyed clothing but have gray hair and aging faces like so many of us from that period of time. Of course, seeing their colorfully decorated microbus and living here in Eugene, the home of one of the hippies' old icons, Ken Kesey, I couldn't help but think of his old flower-painted bus "Furthur" that trekked all the way to New York all those years ago.

"THE PUBLICATION OF Kesey's second novel Sometimes a Great Notion demanded his presence in New York, so Kesey bought a 1939 International Harvester school bus that he and the Merry Pranksters painted in day-glo colors, and outfitted it for a cross-country trip. With Neal Cassady at the wheel, they left La Honda in June 1964 and began their now legendary journey across the country, smoking marijuana, and dropping acid along the way. The top of the bus was made into a musical stage and when it detoured through some cities, the Pranksters blasted a combination of crude homemade music and running commentary to all the astonished onlookers. They arrived in New York in July after an arduous journey, whereupon Neal Cassady introduced them to Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Ginsberg embraced the new legends immediately and arranged for them to drive to Millbrook to meet the other psychedelic pioneer, Timothy Leary." - Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, © 1998 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.

I understand "Furthur" is being resurrected by Kesey's son, Zane. The local annual salute to the 60s, The Oregon Country Fair, was just held last week.

When I emailed Debbie to let her know I was featuring her work in this article she thanked me and included a link to her website. I was thrilled to see that she had produced a set called "Just The Two of Us" featuring Marc Antony and Cleopatra! As a Roman history buff I couldn't help but love them!
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